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Summer Institute Courses at Carlisle

CTY’s Institute for Advanced Critical and Cultural Studies

Courses are designed to help students become more adept, informed consumers of all aspects of culture and media, and to become better assessors of the validity of arguments and opinions in everything from scientific journals to online documentaries. Instructors emphasize the rigorous evaluation of information in a variety of texts and formats, as well as the honing of one’s rhetorical skills in order to communicate effectively with any audience.

In every course, students develop their critical thinking, analytical writing, and problem-solving abilities, skills necessary not only for succeeding in a rigorous college or professional environment but also for being an engaged citizen who can empathize with others inhabiting diverse perspectives and who can effectively negotiate an ever complex, changing world.

Program Disclaimer
Students in these courses at CTY will engage in frank discussions and analyses of contemporary issues and will use materials typical of college courses. For example, students may view an R-rated film or engage topics of a politically or socially sensitive or controversial nature.  

The following courses are offered:


Playing God: The Ethics of Human Subjects Research

From the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to Stanley Milgram’s psychology lab at Yale, human subject research has often been conducted using horrifying methods without the participants’ informed consent. This course examines the troubling history of human subject research in social context, and the harmful, lasting sociological implications of the exploitation of vulnerable populations for the “greater good.” Students grapple with key ethical concepts in research, including questions of consent, the role of privacy and confidentiality, and evaluating the potential benefits of research against harm that may come to the participants. Through multiple disciplines and case studies, they analyze some of the most challenging ethical issues that surround human subject research today, including under what circumstances, if any, may researchers deceive participants or justify harming them because of potential benefits.

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Madness and Insanity: A Social History

Collectively, humanity’s view of what constitutes psychological normalcy—and how to regain or maintain it—has never been static. Despite our growing scientific knowledge about brain chemistry and anatomy, even today it remains unclear what “insanity” actually entails. This course explores psychopathology through the lenses of history, sociology, philosophy, and the law. Beyond simply learning about the contents of the DSM-5, students will question the very premise of “abnormal” psychology, coming to understand it for the construct it is.

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You Will Be Offended: Satire, Comedy, and Public Discourse

At its most potent, humor—satire in particular—is an indispensable tool for revealing uncomfortable truths and exposing hypocrisy. In doing so, it usually manages to provoke, shock, spark debate, and, yes, offend. In this course, students explore the role satire and comedy have played in American cultural and political debates via newspaper cartoons, editorials, essays, TV shows, and stand-up routines. Humorists under consideration include Mark Twain, Lenny Bruce, Don Rickles, Richard Pryor, Norman Lear, Joan Rivers, Gary Trudeau, and Samantha Bee.

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