2020 JHI High School Humanities Summer Institute

6-24 July 2020


UPDATE:  COVID-19 closure

The Jackman Humanities Institute has cancelled this event for 2020, so no applications are being accepted. We plan to run it in 2021.  Our office will be closed for the period 16 March to 4 May 2020, but you can reach us by email at jhi.associate@utoronto.ca if you have questions.


What is it?

The Jackman Humanities Institute invites motivated high school students to explore the humanities disciplines of English Literature, Classics & Ancient History, and Philosophy with leading researchers. Through an exciting program of classroom and experiential learning, students will prepare themselves for university while discovering the University of Toronto. Learn critical thinking, engage with great literature, and explore the rich traditions of thought that form the foundation of University study.

Three one-week programs are available. Participants may choose one, two, or all three programs. This is a daytime program that includes lunches. Residence accommodation is not included.


Where is it?

All programs are offered at 170 St. George Street, Toronto ON, in the 10th floor seminar room. This space is accessible to wheelchair users and provides non-gendered washrooms. The building is located on the north west corner of Bloor Street West and St. George Street, across from the TTC St. George Station.


Who can participate?

High school students in Ontario, who will have completed at least Grade 9, and up to Grade 12 by 30 June 2020.


Are there prerequisites?

No.  You must have at least an Intermediate knowledge of English and a desire to learn. No other background training is required.


How much does it cost?

You can choose to participate in any one, two, or all three program offerings. Lunches and reading materials are included.

  • One program: $250.00 CAD
  • Two programs: $450.00 CAD
  • Three programs: $600.00 CAD


How can I apply?

Scroll to the bottom of this screen and click on Apply Now!  The application will collect your contact information, and a short statement about why you want to participate.  Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis, and you will receive information about next steps within ten business days.  If you are admitted, your tuition cost will be payable online by credit card. Payment should be received within 30 days of admission, and no later than 1 June 2020.


What is the deadline?

Applications will be evaluated as soon as they are received, and the programs will fill on a first-come, first served basis. All participants will be finalized by 1 June 2020.  Space is limited to 25 participants in each program, so we urge you to make your application as early as possible.  Applications will not be accepted after 1 June.  A wait list will be available for programs that have filled.


What programs are available in 2020?

Week One – 6-10 July 2020

Thinking with the Novel

This one-week introduction to English literature taught by Professor Alex Hernandez invites students to read the novel as a technology for imagining the world. How does fiction help us to think? And what sorts of things, ideas, and events do these narratives creatively explore? Taking two classic gothic texts as our focus—Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—interactive morning lectures will place these works in their social, historical, and intellectual contexts, learning to read their stories alongside debates that continue to shape our lives. We’ll ponder, for example, what these books have to say about issues like gender roles, political freedom, consciousness, ethics, artificial intelligence, and climate change, with a special focus on the uniquely literary techniques they use in order to make their claims. Breakout sessions will put our skills to practice by hosting targeted discussions on the readings, interactive game-ified activities, and a visit by a historical choreographer who will teach us the basics of 18th-century dance.


Week Two – 13-17 July 2020

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

This one-week program taught by JHI Director and Professor of Classics Alison Keith offers high school students the opportunity to investigate the impact of the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome on the languages and cultures of contemporary North America. Focusing on Roman comedy and the Hollywood musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, we will learn about and discuss Greco-Roman comedies about mistaken identity; the Roman adaptation of Greek culture; the Greek myth of King Oedipus; Greek and Latin roots of English words; ancient material culture and social history, including Mediterranean archaeology and the roles of women, foreigners and slaves. No prior knowledge of classical civilization, mythology or Latin is required—just curiosity about the world of Mediterranean antiquity. Mornings will be devoted to in-depth exploration of topics in conversation with Department of Classics faculty members. Afternoons will focus on interactive activities in breakout groups led by advanced students in the Department of Classics.


Week Three – 20-24 July 2020

Philosophy Now

Why should we do what the law says? Why should our futures be decided by people who won’t live to see them?; If I become instantly cloned, is my clone me? Can machines think or feel? What is my mind?; Why should we believe science, and why don’t some people? What makes something knowledge vs opinion?; Is beauty objective and universal?; What about gender, sex, and race? Lots of high school students think about many of the above questions, but it’s not easy finding answers. Philosophy Now, coordinated by Professor Alex Koo, offers you the opportunity to learn about philosophical issues that are relevant today. Each morning we will discuss many different perspectives on these questions. The afternoons will be dedicated to interactive activities where you can reflect upon, sharpen, and share your own views. You don’t need any philosophical background to learn and engage with these questions. All you need is a strong sense of curiosity and you will develop a better understanding of philosophy, critical thinking, and the world around you.