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King’s Humanities for Young People receives $23K SSHRC grant

King’s Humanities for Young People receives $23K SSHRC grant

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King’s Humanities for Young People is thrilled to announce it’s received almost $23,000 in a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The money will help cover operating costs for the popular one-week residential program that teaches youths why the humanities matter today.

Students from across Canada will come to King’s for the fourth session of Humanities for Young people, July 6-14.

Humanities for Young People (HYP) is a week-long, immersive, and interdisciplinary summer program that has taken place at King’s since 2016. HYP enrolls about 35 students aged 15 to 17 from across Canada each year, presenting them with challenging questions about major themes in contemporary life and connecting them to foundational texts in the humanities, from Ancient Greece to the present day.

King’s assumes more than half the costs related to providing the space and running the programming, and this SSHRC funding will help cover the difference. This is wonderful news for co-directors Dr. Sarah Clift and Dr. Laura Penny, who can now fundraise specifically for student scholarships.

Humanities for Young People 2019 logo.

Founded in 2016, Humanities for Young People is a immersive, interdisciplinary summer program that exposes teenagers to fundamental texts in the humanities.

“It’s a point of pride that we’ve never turned anyone away on the basis of finances,” says Dr. Clift. The students come from various socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, but generally share a love of reading and writing, and an interest in social, political and cultural engagement.

HYP students live in King’s residence, and spend a week getting a taste of university life through classroom discussions, workshops, and outings. Invited guests give students the opportunity to talk to, and be inspired by, people working in various professional fields. It also always creates new friendships and provokes tears on the last day when students say good-bye to one another.

Fear Not

Each year HYP has a different theme, and for 2019 it’s “Thinking Through Fear,” a topic suggested by a participant in HYP2018. Students will develop a better understanding of how fear functions at the individual and collective levels and how to cultivate a resilient and self-conscious approach.

Students will consider fear-mongering, othering, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the cultural and aesthetic qualities of fear. In addition to increasing awareness of and destigmatizing humanities scholarship, students will leave the program with a greater understanding of how fear can be used, abused, and overcome.

“What’s exciting about it [fear] is that you can approach it from so many angles,” says Dr. Clift. “Theoretically and practically, there are so many angles including even the psychology of fear—why do we love being afraid? Roller coasters, horror movies, etc.” Some of the planned activities include a day-trip to mysterious McNab’s Island, and a session with special effect make-up that will see the teens transforming their faces into something macabre. The week culminates with a public event at the Central Library that’s open to the public and this year features activist/writer Desmond Cole and Elisabeth de Mariaffi, author of Hysteria (2018), as keynote speakers.

Dr. Sarah Clift, one of HYP’s co-directors, says they chose this year’s theme, “Thinking Through Fear,” in part because of how multi-faceted the topic of ‘fear’ can be.

Though the theme changes year to year, one thing that’s consistent is that HYP demystifies and destigmatizes the humanities for secondary school students. The varied readings and activities give students a sense of the breadth of humanities texts and scholarship, as well as a sense of how the humanities can be applied to contemporary problems. It encourages students enthusiastic about politics, culture, and the arts to cultivate those interests with other like-minded young people. By opening up dialogue between keen teens from across Canada, HYP endeavours to foster a new generation of scholars and citizens.

“We set the bar high and they consistently go over it,” said Dr. Penny.

King’s is grateful to SSHRC for this investment in HYP’s future.


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