Centre Summer Scholars Program introduces high school students to liberal arts education

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Campus, News 24 Jun 2014

Unknown-1Given its standing as a top-50 national liberal arts institution, Centre College is the ideal setting for test-driving a liberal arts education, and beginning next week, a select group of ambitious high school students will have the chance to do just that as part of the Centre Summer Scholars Program.

More than 20 rising high school juniors and seniors from Kentucky and several other states will participate in Centre Summer Scholars (CSS), which runs from June 29 through July 12. The students will live on campus, take courses with Centre faculty and build invaluable leadership and academic skills necessary for higher education.

According to Lee Jefferson, assistant professor of religion and CSS’s director, this opportunity will provide pre-college students a taste of the Centre Experience.

“The program is meant to exhibit Centre and its campus to high-achieving high school students as well as introduce them to a liberal arts education,” says Jefferson. “It allows them to experience a very engaged learning program and to develop bonds with their classmates.”

Essential to this engaged learning are experiential, hands-on activities, which will be at the core of each of the three interdisciplinary course tracks offered: Global Diversity and Cultures, Local Politics and Urban Design, and The History and Production of Food.

“Instead of merely keeping them in the classroom, each course takes the students out in the afternoons on different field excursions, such as a trip to Gethsemani Monastery and a visit to Knob View Farms,” explains Jefferson, who will lead the Global Diversity and Culture course.

Jefferson’s course will examine religious and cultural diversity through a variety of world religions as well as art.

“This course will take advantage of the diverse opportunities in the Commonwealth to study global religious systems,” he explains. “We will visit a synagogue in Louisville and a Hindu temple in Lexington, hear from the Sisters of Loretto, Ky., and read Thomas Merton, who was a monk at Gethsemani in New Haven, Ky.”

Assistant Professor of Politics Benjamin Knoll will teach Local Politics and Urban Design; he hopes that his course will prepare students for meaningful democratic participation.

“One of the primary objectives of a college (and high school) education is to help us learn how to be more effective and engaged citizens so that we can better learn how to be a positive force in the world around us,” says Knoll. “Hopefully this course will spark a desire to contribute to their local communities.”

Sara Egge, assistant professor of history, will teach The History and Production of Food, which will challenge students to hone their critical thinking skills while examining America’s food system.

“Major conceptual themes of the course will focus on how the production, consumption and distribution of food has evolved throughout U.S. history,” she explains. “I want the students to see how complicated the food system has become. You can’t take one thing and talk about it on its own—it’s all connected.”

Ultimately, participants will gain a first-rate educational experience as well as a better understanding of what it means to be a college student.

“CSS will show what we do well at Centre by highlighting the benefit of a liberal arts education, and our very own unique campus environment,” says Jefferson.

 by Caitlan Cole