Citizens Thinkers Writers: Reflecting on Civic Life

Fifteen rising seniors from the New Haven public schools will be invited to participate in the 2020 seminar, which will run from July 12th-24th. Two professors will lead the seminar, guiding students through discussions of thought-provoking texts by Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. The seminar discussions will focus on questions of enduring importance, linking historical writings on civic life to contemporary reflections on life in our city. What is the best way for individuals to live together in communities? How can citizens think critically about their societies? What basic agreements lie beneath our political communities, and what happens when those agreements are broken? What are the origins of ideals such as “freedom” and “equality” and what prevents us from achieving them?

In addition to the daily seminar discussions, the students will be guided by three Yale undergraduate student residential teaching assistants and a graduate student program coordinator. The residential teaching assistants will organize supplementary workshops, help students with the analytic and writing skills essential for success at college and live in the residences with them. The graduate coordinator will oversee the program and offer additional advising, organize local field trips in the New Haven area and arrange explorations of additional resources on the Yale campus.

The residential program aims to foster a small community of intellectually ambitious students that will outlast the two weeks of the seminar. After completing the summer program, students become CTW Fellows and continue to meet with the faculty, residential teaching assistants, and coordinator throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Students also receive support in the process of applying to college.

Citizens Thinkers Writers is offered by Yale’s Humanities Program as part of Yale’s Pathways to the Arts & Humanities initiative.