The Castle Rock Institute is an off-campus research center and environmental studies program in the Humanities affiliated with Brevard College. Each semester it seeks applications from college students to live, study and experience the environment 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 classwork, and through group adventure activities. The Castle Rock Institute is dedicated to investigating links between scholarship and the practical dimensions of human life, by emphasizing the relationships between environmental experience, studying the Humanities and living in a small community. This is a unique environmental studies program.
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. The Institute strives to balance and integrate scholarship and environmental adventure (environmental studies), and believes that this can realize significant benefits for both.
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.
The Castle Rock Institute environmental studies session organizes for its residents a variety of environmental studies and adventure activities. This 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. 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, this challenges students to find a balance between real life and their studies. It provides a chance to bring together many aspects of their college experience that are ordinarily fragmented.
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.
The general mission of the Castle Rock Institute involves a unique combination of features. We sponsor a semester-long study program for college students that combines adventure activities and courses in the Humanities. This is anenvironmental studies program like no other.
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