A Gap Year Study Abroad Opportunity for Students seeking to balance academics and nature.  A semester outside.

Gap year programs and adventure travel are central to the mission of the Castle Rock Institute. We sponsor semester-long outdoor programs for students that combines a range of outdoor adventure activities and college-level courses in the Humanities. These are unique gap year programs.

Off Campus Programs

The Castle Rock Institute is a wilderness center for the Humanities affiliated with Brevard College (a liberal arts college in western North Carolina, USA). It seeks applications from students and faculty from the United States and abroad to live, study and experience the outdoors together. Housed in a lodge set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Institute aims to enliven the Humanities through focused interdisciplinary courses, international experience and through organized group adventure activities. The Castle Rock Institute is dedicated to gap year programs, to investigating links between ideas drawn from the Humanities and the practical dimensions of human life.

Sea Kayaking in Abel Tasman

Humanities and Real Life

The Institute's programs encourage interdisciplinary thought and intellectual experimentation by focusing on a particular issue, idea or 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

All CRI students enroll in four university-level courses taught by Institute 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 strive to balance and integrate scholarship and adventure.

An Alternative College Experience

Unlike the historical approach of most university Humanities programs, the Castle Rock Institute curriculum 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 different academic disciplines can contribute to an overall understanding of the theme at hand.

Gap Year Programs

As a part of its educational mission, the Castle Rock Institute organizes for its students 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.

The Natural World in Australia and New Zealand

The Institute's USA base camp is located near 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 outdoor activity.

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