Environmental Studies and adventure are central to the general mission of the Castle Rock Institute. We sponsor a semester-long study program for college students that combines a range of environmental adventure activities and 300-level courses in the Humanities. This is a unique environmental studies program.
Study Off Campus
The Castle Rock Institute is an off-campus research center for the Humanities newly affiliated with Brevard College (a liberal arts college in western North Carolina). Each semester it seeks applications from college students and scholars from the United States and abroad to live, study and experience the environmentals together. Housed in a lodge set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Institute aims to enliven the study of the Humanities both through focused interdisciplinary classwork, and through organized group environmental activities. The Castle Rock Institute is dedicated to environmental studies, to investigating links between scholarship in the Humanities and the practical dimensions of human life in the natural and social world.
Humanities and Real Life
The Institute encourages interdisciplinary thought and experimentation by focusing each semester on a particular issue, idea or theme drawn from the Humanities. This theme serves as the main topic of discussion and area of research for residents at the Institute.
A Full Semester of Academic Credit
Visiting students enroll in four courses taught at Castle Rock by Institute Senior Fellows. Each course meets regularly throughout the semester and awards four hours of college credit. Students also spend several full and half days per week participating in small group activities like rock climbing, backpacking, and paddling. This form of environmental studies strives to balance and integrate scholarship and adventure.
An Alternative College Experience
Different from the historical approach of most college Humanities programs, the curriculum at the Castle Rock Institute is organized thematically. Instead of sweeping through a series of "great books," all of the courses offered during each semester at the Institute address a single issue, idea or theme drawn from the Humanities. Accordingly, each class explicitly considers how insights offered by the other disciplines can contribute to an overall understanding of the theme at hand.
As a complement to its academic mission, the Castle Rock Institute organizes for its residents a variety of environmental adventure activities. The Institute takes seriously the idea that there is a fundamental connection between body and mind, between the embodied practice of lived experience and the more abstract, theoretical concerns of the intellect.
The Natural World in North Carolina
The Institute is located nearby several National Forests totaling close to a million acres, and ranging from 2,000 to just over 6,000 feet in elevation. With several thousand miles of hiking trails, hundreds of designated mountain biking trails, excellent friction and crack climbing spots, rugged rivers with class II and III rapids, and a number of limestone caves --this area is ideal for a fantastic variety of environmental activity.
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