Philosophy and Critical Thinking (PACT) Summer Camp


A virtual summer camp is planned for 2021. Details to be announced – Stay tuned!



2020 Camp Focus: Freedom & Flourishing

Questions we will explore through examination of media, guest lectures, discussions, and debates:

  • Do we have free will?
  • Is happiness more important than freedom?
  • Can too much freedom be bad for you?
  • How should we think about the good or virtuous life?
  • What can we learn about freedom and the good life from diverse philosophical traditions?
  • Is it ever OK to restrict someone's freedom?


About the Camp

The Ohio State Philosophy and Critical Thinking (PACT) Summer Camp is a perfect introduction to the exciting world of philosophical thought. This weeklong summer learning program for high school students is organized and led by the Department of Philosophy at The Ohio State University. It's designed to introduce students to philosophy through learning experiences that are rigorous, engaging, and fun including: a poster project, two formal debates, a trip to the Cartoon Library, a movie screening, a scavenger hunt, and guest lectures by several OSU philosophers.  We hosted our inaugural summer camp in June of 2017 on the topic of "Rights and Liberty", with 23 students from a wide range of local high schools participating. In June of 2018 we hosted the camp for its second year, with a focus on "Justice". We were able to expand our reach, including 39 students from 17 different schools across mid-Ohio. In 2019, over 60 students from mid-Ohio and beyond participated.

Past Participant Responses

When participants were asked at the close of past camps to describe their experience, there were three major themes: fun, unique learning experience, and challenging (insofar as it pushed the development of critical thinking skills).

“I experienced major growth in my… critical thinking skills. I feel that I am now more open to both sides of an argument than ever before.”

“Usually I’m a really straight-forward person, stubborn in my beliefs. This camp made me open to the fact that… only when we look at an issue from multiple sides can we be knowledgeable about it.”

"A powerful learning experience that wasn't stressful, just fun."

"Great experience to learn new things about not only philosophy, but college, other people, and yourself."

"An open, non-judgmental, friendly camp."

"Philosophy camp is a great experience to learn about many things in different aspects. Great to keep your mind going!"

Most past participants have said that the camp made them less nervous or more excited about their college experience. Others reported the camp making them consider philosophy as a major, or attending Ohio State University.  

Additionally, participants have reported developing a diverse set of skills. Those most often reported were the ability to evaluate an issue from multiple perspectives, the ability to critically think, improved debate skills, and an understanding of the mechanics of an argument. Additionally, participants indicated they gained the ability to better articulate their ideas, confidence in developing and defending their own views, and greater tolerance for varied/opposing viewpoints.

The PACT Summer Camp is co-sponsored by the OSU Center for Ethics and Human Values and the OSU Chapter of Minorities and Philosophy.