Summer Success: Dickinson's Knowledge for Freedom Program Accepting Rising High School Seniors

Members of the Knowledge for Freedom program pose with a statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Knowledge for Freedom program participants pose with a statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Photo by Dan Loh.

Seminar Hosted by The House Divided Project

by Craig Layne

Rising high school seniors from across south central Pennsylvania are invited to apply for a free, two-week seminar happening this July at Dickinson College. Hosted by Dickinson’s House Divided Project, the college-level seminar will explore the historic struggle for freedom in the United States. The seminar aims to introduce students from underrepresented backgrounds, particularly low-income or first-generation college-bound students, to a series of great texts addressing fundamental questions about freedom, democracy and self-government. The seminar is free and includes residential room and board. Select students will also be eligible to continue their studies online to receive college credit for their completed course work. All participants will benefit from extensive mentoring and guidance as they navigate the college admissions process during their senior year of high school. 

Interested students can find the application online. The application deadline is May 31.

“We have had some extraordinary success with this wonderful program,” said seminar director and Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History Matthew Pinsker. “Participants from our summer seminar have been accepted at some of the nation’s most highly selective colleges, including not only Dickinson, but also Franklin & Marshall College, George Washington University, Williams College and Yale University, to name just a few. And practically everyone who has participated so far testifies to the life-changing impact of the experience.” 

The seminar is built around Dickinson’s acclaimed House Divided Project, which examines the Civil War and Reconstruction. This is the third year for the seminar, which is funded by a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation’s Knowledge for Freedom Program. It is designed to provide college-level courses, a college-style residential experience and hands-on counseling on the college admissions process.

“Dr. Pinsker has been a really amazing teacher. He taught me how to analyze like a historian,” said Etsub Taye '26, a member of the seminar’s inaugural class in the summer of 2021. Taye will be tutoring students in this year’s session.

The seminar runs from July 16-28 and will include visits to the Gettysburg battlefield and Washington, D.C. Dickinson is among more than 25 institutions currently hosting Knowledge for Freedom programs.

“The idea of having a liberal arts program like this has really helped me because it’s really broadened my horizons,” said 2022 seminar participant Cameron Nye, a first-generation college student who will be attending Yale in the fall. “I’ve learned so much in this program that I wouldn’t have been exposed to anywhere else, and that’s why I think this is such a valuable program.”

The House Divided Project exists to help K-12 classrooms learn more about the American Civil War and the destruction of slavery, with special attention paid to efforts to end slavery, known as abolition.


Published May 10, 2023