A gap year opportunity for students

The Castle Rock Institute is an off-campus research center and adventure gap year programs provider. Each semester it seeks applications from students 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 study of the Humanities both through classwork, through group adventure activities, and international travel. The Castle Rock Institute is dedicated to investigating links between scholarship and the practical dimensions of human life, by offering a gap year experience, studying the Humanities and living in a small community. This is a unique gap year programs offering.

whitewater rafting trip

Students enroll in four college-levelcourses 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 gap year adventure (unlike other gap year programs), and believes that this can realize significant benefits.

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 gap year programs organize for its residents a variety of gap year programs 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 Gap Year 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 gap year students that combines adventure activities and courses in the Humanities. This is a gap year programs offering like no other.

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