The Alexis de Tocqueville Project in Law, Liberty, and Morality at the University of New Orleans has been offering free for-credit college philosophy courses to local high school students. It sounds great. Chris Surprenant, assistant professor of philosophy at UNO and director of the Tocqueville Project, shared some information about the course:
The overarching focus of the course(s) is on human well-being and the good life, and tying it together is a year-long entrepreneurial service project. The idea is that the students are learning about what it means to live well, but that we also wanted to encourage them to do good in the community. So the class was split up into small groups (3 and 4), asked to think about how they could promote well-being in the community, and then each group had access to $1000 in seed money to put their plan into action. This year, one group started a business to turn discarded shipping palates into standing garden structures; another group put on an art program for underprivileged children in the community; another adopted two recently homeless families to help provide them with resources to get back on their feet; and there were a few others. But they were allowed to do whatever they wanted, as long as they could explain why what they did promoted well-being.
The Project is currently expanding the program, with plans to make an online version of the three-credit course (minus the service component) available to students anywhere, for $150, starting next year. Surprenant says:
The course(s) will focus on human well-being and the good life, and will be equivalent to what would be covered in an Introduction to Philosophy course or an Introduction to Ethics course. Students will receive college credit through UNO’s dual-enrollment program. In the fall, students would register for UNO’s PHIL 1000 – Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits), and, in the spring, for PHIL 2201 – Ethics (3 credits).
The format for the course has yet to be finalized, but it will likely include some asynchronous components (recorded lectures and an online discussion forum) and a synchronous component (live discussions online using Adobe Connect or similar software).
To qualify, you must: (1) currently be enrolled in a high school in the United States (and receive approval from your high school to participate–we can help with that) or part of a registered homeschooling program; (2) have a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 2.5 or better; AND (3) Have taken one of the following test and received minimum test scores of: ACT or PLAN: 18 English and 19 math; SAT: 450 English and 460 math; PSAT: 45 English and 46 math; COMPASS: 74 Writing and 40 Algebra.
If you are interested in learning more about the course, email Surprenant at csurpren[at]uno.edu. If you know of similar programs, please share information about them in the comments.