Samford University


The University Fellows Great Ideas Summer Institute


The University Fellows Great Ideas Summer Institute is a unique week-long academic experience for high school students hosted on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. This institute offers an opportunity for intellectually ambitious students to enjoy the energy of a college classroom, engage ideas that form the essence of the Western Intellectual Tradition, and develop friendships with exceptional high school students from around the country.

The institute traces the theme of “Greece, Rome, and the American Republic.”  On the first day, students discuss the Greek origins of Western politics through works by Pericles, Plato, and Aristotle.  Next, students move to Roman political theory with selections from Livy, Plutarch, and Cicero on the growth of the Republic and the rise of Imperial Rome. Day three examines how 18th century polemicists made the case for the American Revolution, utilizing ideas from ancient history and philosophy. On day four, students engage the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist debates surrounding constitutionalism.  Finally, students look at different conceptions of republicanism through the works of Abraham Lincoln and Thurgood Marshall.

Group discussion

All classes are discussion oriented and are led by full-time Samford faculty. Three daily sessions (two in the morning and one in the afternoon) are complemented by speakers, films, and other activities.

Students stay in campus housing, have their meals in the university cafeteria, and live in much the same way that Samford University students do during the regular academic year. In addition to campus activities, students also explore Birmingham, including a trips to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Alabama Theater, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and a Birmingham Barons baseball game. Students are assisted in their stay by student representatives from Samford’s prestigious University Fellows Program. The cost of GISI is $495 for the week and includes all of these amenities (meals, housing, entrance to events, texts, a t-shirt, and transportation while at the camp). If students wish to attend GISI one week and Quantitative Finance another week, the cost for both weeks is $700.

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