NEH Summer Seminar for Teachers on Existentialism


Fully Funded 3 Week Summer Training Opportunity in Philosophy for ALL K-12 Teachers

Apply to the NEH Summer Seminar on Existentialism which will be held at Mount Holyoke College in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.

NEH Summer Seminar on Existentialism: July 16- August 4, 2017

Deadline for Applications: March 1, 2017

What is Existentialism?

Existentialism is a broad cultural movement and also as a specifically philosophical one. It emphasizes the distinctive nature of our human experience of the world, drawing far reaching consequences from this focus, as it places responsibility upon each of us for living our lives and criticizes a variety of different cultural expressions that it sees as concealed attempts to avoid the implications of our freedom.

Life is absurd! Hell is other people. Faith requires a leap. Suffering is the only cause of consciousness. The only significant philosophical problem is suicide. Woman is the Other. These and many similar ideas are part and parcel of Existentialism, the school of philosophy that appeals most to young people. Its central themes – the declining appeal of traditional sources of religious belief, the ubiquity of alienation and its deep roots in the human condition, the difficulty but importance of achieving authenticity, among others – speak directly to young people as they seek to develop their independence.

How does this connect to my work as a teacher?

School teachers from a wide range of disciplines will find this seminar pertinent to their teaching and intellectual concerns, due to various influential themes developed by the philosophers working in the Existentialist tradition:

 

  • an analysis of human freedom that explains not only why freedom is one of our most valued possessions, but why freedom is nonetheless something we seek to avoid
  • an account of the role that other people play in our lives that treats those others as both deeply significant and yet highly problematic in terms of our ability to live as we would choose to;
  • a probing investigation of the significance of anxiety, an emotion that seemed to become central to human existence in the twentieth century;
  • a more complete understanding of the nature of human finitude than that developed by previous philosophers;
  • a recognition of the limitations of human reason for understanding the nature of reality and the importance of recognizing the absurd as an element in human life;
  • an account of the possibility of living a more full and authentic life by acknowledging all the difficult and troubling aspects of human existence.

 

By developing a more comprehensive and detailed grasp of all of these aspects of Existentialism, participants will achieve a clearer understanding of a very significant intellectual and cultural movement in the twentieth century whose impact is still felt today.a broad cultural movement and also as a specifically philosophical one. It emphasizes the distinctive nature of our human experience of the world, drawing far reaching consequences from this focus, as it places responsibility upon each of us for living our lives and criticizes a variety of different cultural expressions that it sees as concealed attempts to avoid the implications of our freedom.

Who can attend?

Any teacher who is currently employed full-time or part-time in the United States. To be a candidate for the Institute, a teacher does not need to plan to have a semester-long or full-year Philosophy course. Instead, she may intend to incorporate aspects of the subject into a course she already teaches, such as in history, literature or languages (especially French). There are 16 spots available to interested teachers.

 

Does the Seminar cost money and where do participants stay?

It does not cost money to apply or attend the Seminar. Additionally, each teacher will receive a (taxable) stipend for their participation in the Seminar.

 

The Seminar will take place on the beautiful campus of Mount Holyoke College and participants will stay in an on-campus dorm equipped with a kitchen (although some participants choose to rent a room or home off-site). Participants can cook their own food or go to the campus center or dinning hall for meals.

 

 

What is the Seminar about?

This seminar will acquaint school teachers with the basic philosophical ideas of Existentialism, an important philosophical movement in the twentieth century that remains influential to this day. Our focus will be the writings of such thinkers as Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Franz Fanon. In addition to philosophical treatises, readings will also be drawn from novels and plays, and films will be shown. The Existentialists are known for their emphasis on the actual lived experience of human beings and their attempt to show that there are more authentic possibilities for living than those chosen by most people. The seminar will explore how the Existentialists argue for this view of life and it will assess its validity both historically and for our contemporary society.

 

What is the daily schedule?

The seminar will meet each week from Monday through Thursday. Snacks will be available each day from 12:30 p.m. The seminar will commence at 1:00 and end at approximately 4:30, with a coffee break around 3 p.m. The Director will be available for individual meetings by appointment in the mornings and after class. You can find the syllabus for the seminar here: http://www.existentialismseminar.com/syllabus

 

How do you apply?

Applications are due March 1st, 2017. You can review the application directions and requirements here.

Questions can be directed to the Seminar Teacher, Thomas Wartenberg: twartenb@mtholyoke.edu

 

Who runs the Institute?

It will be run by Research Professor Thomas Wartenberg from the Department of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College. Professor Wartenberg has experiencing running summer workshops for teachers as well as teacher trainings.

 

His resume includes: Film Editor, Philosophy Now; Director, Teaching Children Philosophy; President, PLATO; Big Ideas for Little Kids: The Video.

NEH Summer Seminar for Teachers on Existentialism
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