Experiencing Civic Life

University of Rochester
June 30–July 12, 2024

Explore the meanings of democracy and citizenship

This exciting, residential pre-college summer seminar offered by the University of Rochester Humanities Center allows high school students who will be juniors and seniors in the fall to:

  • Experience academic life at a world-class research university
  • Engage with the community
  • Explore why history, philosophy, literature, and the arts are important today

The program will address some of the hard questions in the humanities:

  • Who is a citizen?
  • What are the responsibilities of citizenship?
  • How have different societies understood democracy?
  • How have people lived together in diverse communities?
  • How do we balance freedom, individual rights, and our obligations to our community?
  • What roles do the arts play in reflecting on such questions?

Program Overview

This intensive, fully residential summer program for 10–15 students is designed to give participants a strong foundation in the liberal arts. Students will discover new abilities and strengths as they think about a future that may include college.

Experiencing Civic Life meets daily in the University of Rochester Humanities Center. Morning discussions are combined with relevant afternoon field trips to such locations as the Ganondagan State Historic Site, a local courtroom, and the George Eastman Museum. Students live on campus for two weeks, from June 30 to July 12, offering them a rich experience of college life.

The program helps students explore classic texts in the humanities to deepen their understanding of fundamental social and moral questions pertinent to a democracy. Participants also enhance their critical reading, writing, and reasoning skills as well as their digital literacy skills at the college level—an important step toward becoming better students and better citizens. They engage with a vibrant scholarly community of University of Rochester faculty members and current undergraduate and graduate students studying the humanities.

Participants are required to attend daily classes and field trips. Reading, writing, and research are integral to the program. Students may also have the opportunity to undertake projects involving virtual reality, podcasting, or photography. Upon successful completion of Experiencing Civic Life, students will receive a letter of recommendation from a University of Rochester faculty member and continued support toward their post-graduate goals.


Students who attend high school in the city of Rochester are eligible to participate, with preference for those who will be juniors and seniors in the fall, but space is limited. All transportation, meals, lodging, and field trip expenses are included for students accepted into the program.

Priority application deadline is April 15, 2024. Late applications will be considered for review through May 1, 2024.

Apply Today

About the University

One of the great benefits of the program is that high school juniors and seniors get a glimpse of college life at the University of Rochester. The University’s beautiful campus nestled between the Genesee River and Mt. Hope Cemetery is an ideal setting to introduce students to the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Participants get a taste of college life while joining in a rigorous academic seminar and meeting current faculty, staff, and students. The students explore academic and civic culture off campus, too, with field trips to museums, parks, and more.

More Information

Questions about the Experiencing Civic Life program? Contact Program Manager Luis Fernandez at lfernan8@u.rochester.edu.