Our course of study will help convey historical depth to some foundational debates regarding freedom, democracy, and self-government while also carefully preparing students for the rigors of college.

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At the House Divided Project, we have developed a series of curricular innovations on the study of slavery that seem almost ready-made for serving the goals of the Knowledge for Freedom program.  First, we understand that the best way to study slavery is to study the resistance to it.  Students need to appreciate the myriad of ways that ordinary human beings fought against the systemic efforts to dehumanize them.  They also need to appreciate the connection between action and ideas.  There was a centuries-long movement to overthrow the intellectual and political tyranny of slavery–a debate that played out not only in street protests and electoral politics, but also in art and literature and in various cultural ways that still remain under-appreciated by many Americans.


Slavery, or the idea of holding property in man, might well be the most insidious repudiation of American ideals.  And yet, slaveholding was both widespread and long-entrenched in the United States, a country that has always prided itself on embracing universal natural rights.  How was such a fundamental contradiction even possible?  That is the kind of searing question that should help open a gateway toward both deeper learning and more engaged citizenship.  Through a series of close reading exercises that emphasize the importance of empathy and complexity, we will pursue this question with seminar participants.

Learn more about close reading tactics from this handout:


UPDATED COVID STATEMENT:  Participants in the 2021 seminar will be required to receive their full vaccination at least two weeks prior to their on-campus arrival on July 11, 2021.  Those unable to meet this requirement may request permission to participate remotely during our three-week session.  Also, please note that even with a fully vaccinated cohort of students and staff, we will still be following CDC-recommended safety protocols, as they apply, for masking, socially distancing, and frequent hand washing.   All accepted students and their families will receive a copy of our comprehensive COVID safety plan.