High School Seminars

Each year since 1959, Colgate has given area high school students a taste of the college experience. Faculty and administrators teach four sessions, meeting for three classes each, during the academic year.

The university’s mission is to provide a demanding, expansive educational experience to a select group of diverse, talented, intellectually sophisticated students who are capable of challenging themselves, their peers, and their teachers in a setting that brings together living and learning.

The mission of the High School Seminar Program is use Colgate’s resources to benefit the region by introducing area high school students to college-level topics that are not available at their schools and to encourage college attendance by providing them with the opportunity to experience a taste of life on a college campus.

Daily schedule

Arrival: Buses unload students at Merrill House at approximately 3:45 p.m.

Classes begin: 4:00 p.m.

Dinner break: 5:00 to 5:45 p.m.

Classes resume: 5:50 until 6:30 p.m.

Departure: 6:30 p.m. Students board buses at campus safety office

High School Seminar dates for Fall 2021 are:

  • Wednesday, October 27
  • Wednesday, November 3
  • Wednesday, November 10
  • Back-up Date: Wednesday, November 17

Please email highschoolseminar@colgate.edu with any questions.

Current Course Descriptions

Esther Rosbrook, Director of the ALANA Cultural Center

We all have difficult conversations, no matter how confident or competent we are. And too often, no matter what we try, things don't go well. Should you say what you're thinking and risk starting a fight? Swallow your views and feel like a doormat? Or should you let "them" have it? But--what if you're wrong? The seminar provides a way out of this dilemma; it highlights ways to handle even the most challenging conversations more effectively and with less anxiety. In this seminar, participants will explore different case studies, practice the critical strategies for creating meaningful conversation, how to discuss what matters most, practice patience and active listening, and finally, develop their own meaningful communication styles. Upon completing the seminar, participants will have: a greater understanding of the science of meaningful conversation or dialogue; skillset to handle tough conversations or topics or ideas; and a perspective that envisions difficult conversations as a celebration of views or contents.

Susan Thomson, Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies

How do people survive war and other forms of systemic violence? How is it experienced, interpreted, remembered and processed by both combatants and civilians? This course juxtaposes key theoretical perspectives from the social sciences with detailed case studies as a way to develop research skills to prepare students to conduct research in conflict-affected settings. This is done through an understanding of colonialism and imperialism as world-defining systems, with the method of lived experience as a means to understand how violence-affected individuals understand themselves. For, as James Baldwin wrote in 1951, “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” Our courses addresses war and related transnational phenomena, exploring the flows of weapons, practices, and ideas about war across societies, and examines the experience of war from a variety of different social, cultural, and historical perspectives. War as Lived Experience is a mixture of lecture, discussion and media (podcast and documentary).

Sergei Domashenko, Lecturer in Russian and Eurasian Studies

This short course provides a brief introduction to Russia’s history, traditions, and development from ancient to modern times. Students will become acquainted with important historical and life events that have occurred in Russia that have had a significant influence on this nation and the rest of the world. They will also gain a sense of modern Russian traditions.

Kara Rusch, DJ/artist/music critic

Interested in Jazz but always felt the need to "understand" it in order to appreciate it? Don't be intimidated. A course in Jazz appreciation will be offered here. With toes tappin' and heads bobbin' we'll chronologically explore Ragtime, Traditional Jazz, Swing, Bebop, Hard Bop, and beyond. We'll hear the sounds and learn some history of one of America's greatest artistic contributions to the world: Jazz. We will also heavily focus on Jazz treatments of well-known pop songs and talk about cover songs.

Pamela Gramlich, Assistant Director, Sustainability and Environmental Studies Program Coordinator

Food plays an important role in our personal, societal and planetary health. This class will explore how food access, production, waste, new technology, cultural values, and nutrition play a role in creating a sustainable future. The course will also examine the role that current agricultural threats, such as climate change, play in global food security. Participate in this interactive seminar to get a better understanding of the relationships among people, the planet, and food.

Brenda Sanya, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies

Oftentimes, descriptions of the history of schooling and education in the United States center around the imagery of the charming Little Red Schoolhouse or the yellow school bus. Understandably, we tend to analyze the goals, successes, and failures of the American school based on personal perspectives and experiences. However, if we ask: “what has been taught, to whom, when, why, and how?” historical records reveal that schools in the US are much more than the romantic imagery of the Little Red Schoolhouse. Throughout history, the American school—the actual schoolhouse and the dynamic process of teaching and learning—have been at the heart of questions of citizenship, political and cultural debates on rights, and a fundamental measure of American conceptions of progress. This seminar will focus on three snapshots in time to understand how various segments of the American population have been impacted by schooling, education, and major educational movements. You will learn how to read and analyze primary documents, to understand the distinction between schooling and education, how larger cultural, political, historical, and social forces shape schools and students, and the role of schools within the United States.