The Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Studies is pleased to give its 2015 President’s Award to Jason Pedicone and Eric Hewett, co-founders of the Paideia Institute, for their work in significantly advancing public appreciation and awareness of classical antiquity. In the words of their nominator, “They have together created a rarissima avis—a Greek and Latin startup, a flourishing new institution that, in less than five years, has effectively promoted the study and appreciation of the classical humanities, with a focus on Latin and Ancient Greek languages and literature.”
The Institute was founded in 2010 by former students of the Vatican Latinist, Father Reginald Foster, who taught generations of Latin students to love the Latin language and the city of Rome. Paideia’s goal at its foundation was to continue the tradition of Father Foster’s beloved course, Living Latin in Rome, and that flagship program continues to give today’s students the magical experience of learning to speak Latin among Rome’s ruins. Since its foundation, Paideia has extended the Rome program to include high school students and has added several other summer programs in Greece and France. In addition, Paideia works with high schools and universities to enhance their offerings in classics in the U.S. and to help them to develop study-abroad experiences. The Paideia Institute also runs domestic events and conferences for students and teachers of Latin and Greek, operates online classes, and sponsors a fellowship for a year of study in Rome.
Anthony Grafton participated in one of Paideia’s programs in 2014 and wrote a lengthy and laudatory article in the February 2015 issue of The Nation. It said, in part,
Summer study, a dead language, hours traveling on buses: it doesn’t sound exciting on the face of it, especially to anyone who knows how little studying takes place in many summer programs. But these summer experiences are different. A lot of Paideians come back in love—with something bigger than they’re used to, something bigger than what we usually offer them in schools and universities, and that love makes a huge difference in everything they do.
Their nominator adds, “Paideia is also working because Pedicone and Hewett are organizational visionaries. One of their immediate goals, for instance, is to offer Living Latin in Rome to students entirely for free. Another is to create postdoc positions for Classics Ph.D.s, based in Rome, whose job will be to teach Latin rather than to do research for a year. In other words, they are rethinking employment possibilities for Classics Ph.D.s—and they're making them a reality.”
In summer 2014 the nominator led one of the groups studying in Rome and states, “These were the most generous and enthusiastic group of Latin learners I’ve met since taking Latin with Reginald Foster 15 years ago. And to watch the very best of them hone their abilities to new mastery over the five weeks was a tremendous pleasure.”
The SCS is pleased to recognize Paideia for its passionate engagement with the Classics—for school and for life.
Adam D. Blistein