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High school students come to Eckerd College for humanities immersion

By Tom Scherberger
Published June 12, 2014
Categories: Academics

Thirty high schools students from across Florida and the nation are staying at Eckerd College this week for the first-ever summer program focused on the humanities.

Titled “New Eyes for a New Century: The Humanities 20-20,” the weeklong program is sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council and the Eckerd College Special Programs Division. It is designed for high school juniors and seniors seeking a deeper understanding of the humanities and the liberal arts.

There’s nothing quite like it in Florida and perhaps nationwide, says Janine Farver, executive director of the Florida Humanities Council.

“There are a lot of summer science camps but nothing for the humanities,’’ says Farver. “We don’t know of another program like this in the country.’’

During their stay, students live at the dorms, eat their meals at the campus cafeteria and participate in active, experiential learning with Eckerd professors. It not only gives them a better understanding of the humanities but of college life, says Literature Professor Julie Empric, who designed the curriculum.

“We’re trying to give them a pre-college experience,’’ says Empric. They are working closely with full-time Eckerd professors of philosophy, literature, rhetoric and film studies, as well as with Eckerd students.

A lot of fun activities are included — campfire s’mores and movies at the pool, for example — but the program is designed to be intellectually stimulating.

Students explore the hidden power of the visual image in advertising, learn about surrealism at the Dali Museum, discuss beach-related literature at the beach and learn how to create hypertext in a computer lab.

The students spent Tuesday morning at Big Cat Rescue and on Wednesday discussed the ethics of the humane treatment of animals — followed by an outdoor Tai Chi class beneath the pines and palmettos on campus.

“This is a great program,’’ said Howard Johnston, University of South Florida secondary education professor who is evaluating the initiative for the Humanities Council. “I’m just fascinated watching the students engaging with the faculty.”

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