Philosophy Summer Camp for high school students returns for a second year

Last year, the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies hosted high school-age students for a week-long philosophy summer camp. The camp was a collaborative effort between graduate students in the philosophy program and philosophy faculty to get young students interested in philosophy and to understand what it entails. 

The philosophy summer camp is returning this summer but with a new topic. Last year’s topic was ‘Engaging Disagreement’ and worked with students to give them tools to break down arguments, critically evaluate what people were saying and understand the importance of remaining charitable to those they don’t yet understand.

“The students grew both intellectually by asking better questions and not jumping so quickly to judgment, and also personally,” said Anglea Barnes, the organizer of the camp and a PhD candidate in philosophy. “We watched students open up, get to know each other and develop more confidence over the course of a mere week.”

This year’s topic is ‘Technology: Friend of Foe?’ and will help students approach modern technology tools in a new way. 

“People are growing up today with a whole new set of tools which their parents, or even their older siblings didn’t have access to,” said Barnes. “We need to think critically about these tools, what they are doing for us and who wants us to be using them.”

Some of the key questions students will be addressing are: How does technology affect my well-being? What is holding my attention? What are hidden influences on my actions? What have people convinced me that I need? How is technology affecting the way I view others? How is technology affecting the way I view myself? 

The goal of the camp this year is to give young adults the tools and concepts they need so they can look and decide for themselves which influences they are going to invite into their lives. 

“As with last year, we are not interested in telling anyone what they should think,” said Barnes. “We are just interested in giving young people the tools they need to decide for themselves how they want to live their lives.”

Not only will students be involved in discussions and conversations on the topic, they will also get to experience college life for a week. Students get to engage with graduate students and university faculty, get to explore campus and eat in dining halls.

“I can’t wait to join local high schoolers at this year’s ASU high school summer camp, where we’ll delve into the hidden nature of technology,” said Thad Botham, assistant teaching professor of philosophy. “With the recent stirrings from ChatGPT, I’m eager to learn from, and help prepare, tomorrow’s leaders.”

This year’s camp will be run by Barnes, Aubrial Harrington and Scout Etterson, who are PhD students in the philosophy program. They are excited to meet a new set of students.

“The feedback that we got [last year] was incredible,” said Barnes. “Students told us that they felt a sense of community, felt safe to take risks and ask questions, felt like they learned valuable skills and that they had fun. As our campers last year would tell you, there is something special about being in a place with your peers that want to look into life a little more carefully, to take less things for granted and to explore ideas together.”

Registration for this year’s philosophy summer camp is open until May 1, 2023. Some scholarships are available for students who may have financial barriers keeping them from participating. 

To get more information about the scholarships you can email Barnes at For more information on the camp and to register, visit the camp’s website here.

Last year’s Philosophy Summer Camp