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Young Public Scholars

Tulane University's high school Pre-College summer programs encourage the educational goals and career interests of today's academically talented youth. Designed specifically for the young social justice advocate, our Young Public Scholars Program allows students to expand on their knowledge, focus their vision, and contribute to real-world change.

Your Voice Will Be Heard!

Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts Young Public Scholars Program is a selective Pre-College program centered around students’ knowledge of complex global problems and their ability to effect change. The program offers students entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year of high school the opportunity to preview the virtual college classroom while diving deep into pressing issues of our time, their historical roots, and the most current frameworks for researching them. All Young Public Scholars courses are enrichment courses, meaning students do not get college credit for completing the course.

Students will be inspired to create a public impact on the topic(s) they discuss in the program, which include:

  • Climate Change
  • Social Inequalities
  • Inclusive Diversity
  • Restorative Justice

Working with a professor and their peers, each student is challenged to hone their unique voice based on evidence obtained from their research and analysis. Students will receive a media tool kit to enable students to communicate learning creatively and effectively through writing, photography, video, and audio clips. Each student will strive to reach over 3,000 weekly readers through publication in ViaNolaVie.org, New Orleans’ online culture magazine founded by local professional journalists. At the end of the experience, each student will have a digital portfolio to include in their résumés.

Program Highlights

  • All Public Scholars courses work together to deepen students’ understanding of complex global problems.
  • Instructors are all university faculty with professional media-making experience.
  • Four virtual, two-week course options

Explore Our Courses

Kathryn A. O'Dwyer

Pandemics Past and Present (June 28 - July 9)

Offered: June 28  – July 9

The bubonic plague, yellow fever, influenza, AIDS, SARS… the coronavirus is not the first contagion to destabilize entire societies. From the 14th century to the present day, students will be able to contextualize the current crisis. Digging into archival materials will reveal how systemic inequities make some communities more vulnerable to disease and economic hardships. Students will contribute to the national research archive A Journal of the Plague Year and publish an opinion piece on ViaNolaVie.

Instructor Kathryn A. O’Dwyer is a trained public historian who uses digital technologies to empower people to create, document, and analyze their own historical narratives. She has worked closely with museums in New York, New Orleans, and Amsterdam, and currently serves as managing editor of New Orleans Historical, a site dedicated to authentic historical walking tours of New Orleans. 


Ned Randolph

The Right to Environmental Justice (June 28 - July 9)

Offered: June 28  – July 9

Many layers of American history are written in the geographies of New Orleans and its surroundings. Students will learn how slavery is embedded in the scenery of public spaces and the construction of zones of exclusion, investigate significant landscapes of environmental struggles, and learn first-person non-fiction techniques to write an op-ed to publish on ViaNolaVie. Readings include John McPhee, Rachel Carson, and other environmental essayists.

Instructor Dr. Ned Randolph (Ph.D., University of California, San Diego) worked as a reporter covering the region for The Advocate before leaving the newspaper business to study environmental infrastructures and the geography of the Mississippi. Recently, he has been investigating the roots of the area known as Cancer Alley.


Punishment and Redemption from the Prison Industrial Complex (July 12 - July 23)

Offered: July 12  – July 23

Louisiana leads the world historically in incarceration rates and now in criminal justice reform. Learn about the broad social impacts of a justice system rooted in inequalities and the struggles to reverse them. Students meet with formerly incarcerated activists while studying the structures for incarceration through film, video, and reportage and learn interview techniques in producing a profile for ViaNolaVie.

Instructor Betsy Weiss (M.F.A., San Francisco State University; M.S.W. Hunter College) trained as an experimental filmmaker and a social worker before blending these in a social justice documentary. Using collaborative oral histories as her method, she has worked with activists and artists to create social change through media.


Chuck Perkins

The Politics of Naming (July 12 - July 23)

Offered: July 12  – July 23

What’s in a name? That question has resounded nationally as citizens are re-examining those memorialized in through the names of streets, mascots, schools, and monuments. This seminar focuses on the historical lenses through which we see those representations and the contemporary protests for changing them. Learning the basics of spoken word and poetry, students learn how to raise their voices to analyze, interpret, respond to a vibrant discussion in the public sphere. Student’s spoken-poems will be shared on ViaNolaVie.

Instructor Chuck Perkins is an internationally recognized artist and activist. He is known for infusing New Orleans rhythms and vernaculars into his musical spoken-word pieces. With performances spanning France, the UK, and the Netherlands, he founded a theater to promote visual and performing arts. He has recently hosted his own talk-radio program on current affairs and is currently writing a book about naming and social justice.