A gap year programs opportunity that awards a full semester of college credit in the Humanities, and promises to be the most intense gap year exprience you've ever had.

Creating a balanced experience is central to the general mission of the Castle Rock Institute. We sponsor semester-long programs for students that combine a range of outdoor adventure activities and college-level courses in the Humanities. This is a unique gap year program that awards college credit in the Humanities.

rock climbing in NZ


The Castle Rock Institute is an off-campus programs center for the Humanities affiliated with Brevard College (a liberal arts college in western North Carolina). It seeks applications from students and faculty from the United States and abroad to live, and study the natural world together. Housed in a lodge set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, the Institute aims to enliven the study of the Humanities through focused interdisciplinary classwork, cross-cultural experience, and through organized group outdoor adventure activities.

College Experience

The programs at the Institute encourage 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. It's a great experience to be in class and know that your thoughts about how what you're discussing relates to another class will be appreciated by the other students. It's a gap year programs offering at it's best. Real learning, in the best sense of the word awaits Castle Rock Institute students. It's something that hits deeply.

Academic Credit

All CRI students enroll in four college-level courses taught 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. The Institute strives to balance and integrate scholarship and adventure, and believes that doing so can realize significant benefits for both.

Outdoor Humanities

The curriculum at the Castle Rock Institute is organized thematically, not historically like 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 other disciplines can contribute to an overall understanding of the theme at hand.

Adventure Travel

As a complement to its academic mission, the Castle Rock Institute organizes for its student residents a variety of outdoor adventure activities. The Institute takes seriously the idea that there is a fundamental connection between body and mind, between everyday lived experience and the more abstract, theoretical concerns of the intellect. It's international program travels to both Australia and New Zealand.

Find about more about CRI here!

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