Motivated high school students can get a taste of the Centre Experience this summer at Centre College’s Summer Scholars Program, which runs from Sunday, June 26 through Saturday, July 9 and is led by Centre faculty members.
The intensive, two-week program open to rising high school juniors and seniors incorporates informed discussion, field study at area locations and evening programs that feature talks by leaders in their respective fields.
“The goal of the program is to help young people realize their potential, introduce them to a liberal arts atmosphere and give them the tools needed to take positive action in improving our world,” Lee Jefferson, director of the program and Centre College assistant professor of religion, said.
“Centre is committed to producing critical thinkers and responsible leaders,” he added. “By exposing high school students to the nuances of topics such as biology, cultural diversity and religion, and politics, they will gain some insight into the benefits a liberal arts education provides.”
Three academic tracks are being offered during the program, all of which are interdisciplinary in nature and overlap in order to facilitate discussion and reflection with all students in the program.
Jefferson will be teaching Global Diversity and Cultures, a course that examines religious diversity through Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity, as well as cultural diversity through the lens of art and imagery. Students will be immersed in contemporary theories, readings, films and experiential learning opportunities.
“This course introduces students to Western and non-Western religions that appear in our immediate context in the United States, as well as Kentucky,” Jefferson explained. “I love reading some new texts with the students, then taking them on field trips where they can actually see and witness what they read existing in real time.
“For example, we read a book by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton then take a visit to Gethsemani, Merton’s abbey,” he continued. “It’s a great way to introduce young people to read critically and realize the value of it.”
Local Politics and Civic Engagement, taught by Assistant Professor of Politics Benjamin Knoll, will offer a “crash course” on the ins and outs of local political issues that will invite much discussion and debate.
“I’m excited for students to get hands-on experience with the local political process,” Knoll said. “We hope to be able to interview local elected officials and community leaders, attend local city government meetings and forums and learn more about how the political process works at the local level.
“I hope students come away with an appreciation for just how much they can make a difference at the local level,” he continued.
Assistant Professor of Biology Jessica Wooten will teach the course Biology as a Way of Knowing, a class that introduces students to the methods and philosophy of science through the study of biology. Through exposure to common methods in biology and working in a research-oriented environment, students will gain practical experience conducting a publishable research project. In addition, students will be able to attend presentations and interview biologists to gain a better understanding about what it means to be a research scientist in today’s world.
“I am most excited about working directly with the students on actual scientific research and getting to know the students on an individual level during this experience,” Wooten said.
“Using a hands-on approach, students will experience what it is like to do biology, rather than reading about scientific studies in a book or online,” she continued. “I hope that students will gain an appreciation for the process of learning through practice and walk away with laboratory techniques that will benefit them through their undergraduate career and beyond.”
During the two-week event, students will have an unparalleled opportunity to test-drive the college experience both academically and socially, living on campus in residence halls, taking meals in the dining hall and attending classes taught by Centre faculty.
Registration is now open and will continue through June.
by Elise L. Murrell
February 17, 2016