Gap year programs are part of the general mission of the Castle Rock Institute. We sponsor semester-long study programs for students that combine a range of outdoor adventure activities and college-level courses in the Humanities. This is a unique gap year programs offering.
The Castle Rock Institute is an off-campus residential program for the Humanities affiliated with Brevard College (a liberal arts college in western North Carolina). Each semester it seeks applications from students and scholars from around the world to live, study and experience natural wonders together. Housed in a lodge set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Institute aims to enliven the study of the Humanities through focused interdisciplinary classwork, international student travel and through organized group gap year programs and activities. The Castle Rock Institute is dedicated to investigating links between ideas in the Humanities and the practical dimensions of human life.
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The Institute encourages interdisciplinary thought and experimentation by focusing each semester on a particular issue, idea or theme drawn from the Humanities. This theme (for example, nature) serves as the main topic of discussion and area of research for residents at the Institute.
The curriculum at the Castle Rock Institute is organized thematically, different from the historical approach of most college Humanities programs. 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. For example, a semester devoted to the notion of "identity" may consider how the use of masks in African initiations or how Christian conceptions of self can inform an Australian novel, or can affect the composition of a painting or pencil sketch.
The Castle Rock Institute organizes for its residents a variety of outdoor adventure activities as a complement to its academic mission. The Institute takes seriously the idea that there is a fundamental connection between body and mind, between the embodied practice of everyday experience and the more abstract, theoretical concerns of the intellect. 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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