Our primary program, the Gap Year explores the Christian view of the world and the history of Western ideas as seen through the Humanities. In lectures, discussions, and tutorials, students will study a selection of the great books, art, and music of the Western world. In addition, students will attend concerts and plays, visit museums, and culminate their year in the spring with studies in Paris and London. The students' work will be guided by professors whose diverse academic careers have been dedicated to the unity of Faith and Reason.
What should you expect from your gap year?
Lectures, discussions, and tutorials on the great works of the Western world, including its literature, paintings, music, sculpture, architecture, politics, philosophy, and theology.
For a Christian to glorify God with his mind means being critically engaged with the ideas that have shaped our world. As such, the Center Gap Year is not simply about “getting educated” on Homer, Dante, or Eliot. Rather, it’s about shaping your soul to see and engage with the true, the good, and the beautiful (as well as the false, evil, and ugly) all around today. Simply put, our goal is to be engaged in the art and ideas of Homer, Dante, and Eliot in order to better engage the art and ideas of (for example) the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the next election cycle. Culture counts, and we are to glorify God with mind and heart as well as soul and strength, which means knowing how to engage culture.
Visits to concerts, plays, and museums.
All human artifice—whether writing a sonata, building a chair, or producing a podcast—is the embodiment of ideas and values, making concrete what is otherwise disembodied and abstract. What is made, how it’s made, and what goes into its making all speak to the ideas and values that a particular culture (or person within that culture) give priority. As such, it’s not enough to simply discuss those ideas and values in the abstract. It’s not enough to simply get an intellectual sense of the humanism of the Romans or the nihilism of the Moderns. Rather, you must see it with your own eyes, hear it with your own ears, touch it with your own hands, and stand within it bodily. The senses are the gateways to knowledge for a reason: until a thing is made concrete, you cannot really being to know it.
Study abroad in Paris and London.
Because we at the Center believe in the concrete experience of ideas through culture (both its people and their artifacts), our study trip to Paris and London is no mere vacation or simple cultural exchange. You must breathe the air and walk the streets and see with your own eyes what wonders (and sometimes terrors) the ideas of the Western world have wrought. As with the concerts, plays, and museums, it is not enough to intellectually grasp the cultural significance of Paris in the shaping of the Western world. Rather, you need to stand “here in the slums of St. Michel” for yourself.
Trip to Rochester L’Abri, Sunday night fellowships, host families, and various Center functions.
Truth, beauty, and goodness are not discovered in isolation. Rather, they are discovered in fellowship and community. As such, students of the Center Gap Year are not simply signing on to an academic program; they are also joining a community, comprised of their teachers, fellow students, former students, host families, and many other faces along the way. Laughter and silliness is normal. Memories and friendships are meant to be made. It is in the midst of such fellowship and community that learning truly thrives, for wisdom (like everything else) can only be fully known in the concrete.