Philosophy and Critical Thinking (PACT) Summer Camp


Thank you to all of the wonderful campers that joined us this summer!

If you want to receive reminders about PACT 2020, please register here
The PACT 2020 application materials will be available in early January. 


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.

2019 Camp Focus: Identity

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

  • If you lost all of your memories, would you still be the same person?
  • If someone has multiple personality disorder, are they literally multiple people?
  • What are racial or gender identities?
  • Can identifying as a member of a group make you who you are?
  • If over a few years every single part of your car had to be replaced, is it still the same car?
  • How much can a thing change without becoming a different thing? 

2017 & 2018 Participant Responses

When participants were asked at the close of the 2017 and 2018 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!"

Among our 2018 participants, most 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.

This project is/was made possible through a Connect and Collaborate Grant, a program supporting innovative and scholarly engagement programs that leverage academic excellence of The Ohio State University in mutually beneficial ways with external partners.

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