Adventure Travel is central to the general mission of the Castle Rock Institute. We sponsor semester-long adventure programs for students that combine a range of outdoor activities and university-level courses in the Humanities. We offer unique gap year programs. Unlike other gap year programs, the Castle Rock Institute semester programs have a significant academic component.
An Alternative to Ordinary College Life
The Castle Rock Institute is a wilderness center for the Humanities affiliated with Brevard College (a small liberal arts college in western North Carolina, USA). A gap year programs provider, it seeks applications from students and scholars to live, study and experience the outdoors together for a semester. Housed in a lodge set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, CRI aims to enliven the study of the Humanities through focused interdisciplinary classwork, international travel experience, and through organized group adventure activities. The Castle Rock Institute is dedicated to investigating links between ideas drawn from the Humanities and the practical dimensions of human life in the natural and social world. By eliminating the ordinarily compartmentalized experience of ordinary university life, this program demonstrates what an integrated and meaningful college education can be.
The Institute's gap year programs encourage interdisciplinary thought and intellectual experimentation by focusing each semester on a single theme drawn from the Humanities. This theme serves as the main topic of discussion and area of investigation for students at the Institute.
A Full Semester of Academic Credit
CRI students enroll in four university-level courses taught by CRI Senior Fellows. Each course meets regularly throughout the semester and awards four hours of academic credit. Students also spend several full and half days per week participating in small group activities like rock climbing, backpacking, and paddling. These gap year programs express how the Institute strives to balance and integrate scholarship and adventure, and how it believes that doing so benefits both.
Unlike the historical approach of most university 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 at CRI address a single issue, idea or theme drawn from the Humanities. Accordingly, each class explicitly considers how insights offered by other disciplines can contribute to an overall understanding of the theme. For example, a semester devoted to the notion of "good and evil" may consider how the use of masks in African religious rituals or how French Existentialist conceptions of self can inform a Jane Austen novel, or can affect the composition of a painting or pencil sketch.
Gap Year Programs
As a part to its educational mission, the Castle Rock Institute organizes for its student a variety of outdoor adventure activities. The Institute takes seriously the idea that there is a fundamental connection between body and mind, between lived experience and the more abstract, theoretical concerns of the intellect. Like the best learning, it sees, in other words, a mutually reinforcing relationship between direct and intense contact with the natural world and the scholarly goals central to the Humanities. Focusing on meaningful expressions of this relationship, challenges students to find a balance between real life and their studies.
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