From the Executive Director

Professor Margarita Mooney Clayton, Scala’s Founder and Executive Director. Learn more about Professor Mooney Clayton at her website.

I started Scala because I believe that restoring a classical liberal arts education, founded on beauty and wisdom, is crucial to renewing American culture. 

Scala proposes a classical model of liberal arts education, a millennia-old vision in which education takes place in a community that is grounded in friendship and open to beauty and transcendent truth. 

Scala also aims to build a community of scholars, artists and educators who know the cherished principles that undergird American society and know how to build the material culture we need to sustain our families, communities, educational institutions and civic life.

No component of culture has more impact on our shared life than education. Indeed, opponents of freedom, classical culture, and faith in God have deeply influenced schools and universities. When education promotes meaninglessness and resentment, students become angry and resentful. But when educators promote what is beautiful, what is true, and what history, philosophy, science, and theology show is the best of the human person, society has a future.

In today’s culture of anger and resentment, most of what is passed off as “beautiful” today is counterfeit. Confused by a deluge of manipulative noise and images, most Americans can’t see how to get past the despair and ugliness that surrounds us.

Scala counteracts these trends by empowering key agents of cultural renewal: teachers, professors, educational entrepreneurs and culture creators. Every person who participates in Scala programming can go on to affect a hundred others.

Here are Scala’s core commitments:

  • Education begins with beauty. Education should encompass the aesthetic dimension of the human person, and develop our capacity for poetic knowledge. Beauty inspires us with admiration and makes us want to achieve wisdom. Like a spark, beauty ignites a passion for true learning. Beauty purifies us of anger and resentment.
  • Lasting beauty is grounded in timeless principles passed on through tradition. Beauty turns our hearts towards the truth by attracting us to thegood. To revitalize culture, we need cultural entrepreneurs who take the timeless principles of tradition and bring them into our present culture.
  • Education shows students how to integrate many disciplines. The human mind grows by being exposed to different forms of learning, including the natural sciences, philosophy, social sciences, literature, music, art, grammar, rhetoric, and logic. All fields of knowledge—including the fine arts—ultimately lead to a unified truth.
  • Education enriches lasting friendships. Friendship and hospitality are central to building communities of learners who listen and learn from each other. 
  • Relationships transform hearts. Ideas need to be expressed through intentionally chosen practices we engage in with others. Forming relationships that share beautiful music, art, and other experiences of beauty sustain great traditions.
  • Hope builds fortitude. Facing our challenges requires being ready to give the next generations reasons to hope. Scala’s programs are grounded in the conviction that human beings are created in the image of God. Gratitude, faith, and worship are essential to personal happiness and discovering one’s vocation.

Anyone who participates in Scala’s activities comes away with a greater understanding of how to encounter the sacred, live with joy, enter deeply into leisure, and build a common good where justice is both true and beautiful.

If you share Scala’s vision to renew American culture through beauty, liberal arts education, and faith in God, you can:

Renewing American culture will take many people working together, so please get involved.


Margarita Mooney Clayton, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Scala Foundation