Intellectual foundations

Introducing UATX’s first-ever high school program in New York City
New York City, NY

October 6-8, 2023

MISSON

At UATX, we’re building a university dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth. That means we challenge the unchallengeable and question the unquestionable. It means we take ideas seriously — and we debate them rigorously. We’re not concerned with fads or moral posturing. We’re interested in something much more rewarding and timeless. We’re seeking the truth, however elusive it may be.

Others can’t think for you. Only you can do that.

On an early fall weekend, you could be scrolling instagram or binge-watching Netflix.

Instead, we're asking you to immerse yourself in three days of college-level courses. Why? If you're one of us, we suspect you already know the answer.

Our students often describe our programs as life-changing. This June and July, we hosted our first-ever high school programs in Austin and San Francisco. Back by popular demand, we're now opening our doors to high school students in New York City. In this brief but intensive college-level daytime program, course subjects range from data science and mathematical concepts to American political thought and African-American literature. Each course engages with fundamental themes, theories, and texts, with small seminars capped at around 15 students each.

If this free program sounds exciting to you, join us.

Applications closed

New york City, NY

Course Offerings

October 6-8, 2023
Learning from Data
If you buy stock in a friend’s startup, will you get rich or lose it all? Can you diagnose a patient’s cancer type by examining his gene expression? Working with R and RStudio, use big data to make predictions and classifications that were nearly impossible a generation ago.

David Ruth
Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics, UATX
About
Close-Reading Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most influential philosophers of the modern era. Many speak of Nietzsche’s ideas, yet few read his works directly. Even fewer read him closely.  In this course, we will learn how to read Nietzsche's texts closely and critically, by doing a deep dive into his Preface to The Genealogy of Morals. In this Preface, we will uncover ideas that illuminate our understanding of today's world and of our own lives.  

Charles Pisaruk
Instructor, Intellectual Foundations & Assistant Director of Admissions
About
Building Utopia: Limits and Possibilities
Is there any kind of truth that scientific methods are unable to discern? Are there any obstacles to human flourishing that cannot be overcome through technological innovation? Students will discuss topics such as free will, teleology, skepticism, the problem of the criterion, and the hard problem of consciousness in light of works of satire and science fiction as well as treatises on philosophy and the history of the Scientific Revolution.

Patrick Gray
Dean  of Arts & Letters, UATX
About
Black Boy and the Making of an American Writer
Growing up in the Jim Crow South, Richard Wright experienced poverty, racism, and severe abuse at the hands of his relatives. Finding a lifeline in reading and writing, he nevertheless succeeded in his quest “to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering.” Wright’s story, an autobiographical and sociological classic, illustrates the liberating power of literature and the possibilities, as well as the failures, of the American experiment.

Jacob Howland
Provost And Dean of Intellectual Foundations, UATX
About
American Political Thought
What is America? Study the animating ideas of the American republic. Attention will be paid to the natural rights teaching of the American founding, the design of the American Constitution, debates over slavery, and persistent issues in American politics. Students will consider the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, Lincoln’s speeches, and some excerpts from Tocqueville.

Loren Rotner
ASSISTANT PROVOST AND ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INTELLECTUAL FOUNDATIONS & POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, UATX
About
Mathematics for STEM and the Social Sciences
Why does mathematics lend such power and authority to modern natural science? Is the attempt to replicate this success in the social sciences justifiable or valid? Students will consider these questions as they engage in a college-level mathematics workshop with an emphasis on the foundations of calculus. We will examine the ideas of limits, derivatives, and integrals, all the while exploring their correct and incorrect uses in natural and social science.

Ariel Helfer
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Wayne State
About
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Workshops

UATX Debate Series
How do you bring people around to your view? Can you support your statements with evidence? Can you empathize with a classmate’s viewpoint, even when you vehemently disagree? When conducted properly, debate enables us to learn and productively navigate disagreements. Our debate series will introduce students to combative, but rational and civil, discussion of difficult ideas. Students will be assigned to teams and set the task of arguing one side of a contentious contemporary argument.

Benjamin Crocker
Academic programs manager, uatx
About
Navigating the College Years
Learn from UATX’s faculty experts on what to look for in a college and how to get the most out of the undergraduate experience.

Faculty will be joined by special guests from UATX's vast network.

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View previous high school programs
Applications closed

San Francisco, CA

Course offerings

July 31 - Aug 2, 2023
American Political Thought
What is America? Study the animating ideas of the American republic. Attention will be paid to the natural rights teaching of the American founding, the design of the American Constitution, debates over slavery, and persistent issues in American politics. Students will consider the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, Lincoln’s speeches, and some excerpts from Tocqueville and Nietzsche.

Loren Rotner
ASSISTANT PROVOST AND ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INTELLECTUAL FOUNDATIONS & POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, UATX
About
Learning from Data
If you buy stock in a friend’s startup, will you get rich or lose it all? Can you diagnose a patient’s cancer type by examining his gene expression? Working with R and RStudio, use big data to make predictions and classifications that were nearly impossible a generation ago.

David Ruth
Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, & mathematics, UATX
About
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Workshops

Is AI Progress or Regress? Our Salvation or Doom?
Offered in partnership with Higher Ground Education, students will investigate the history of machine assisted thought, explore the power of LLMs to perform a variety of tasks from clerical to creative, and examine the power of AI to transform society for both good and ill.

Matt Bateman
VP of Pedagogy, Higher Ground Education
About
Healthcare in Crisis: Why Do we Spend so Much for so Little?
The United States spends twice as much per capita on healthcare compared to the UK, western Europe, and even Canada. Yet, our health outcomes and average life expectancy significantly lag our peers: we spend much more for much less! This workshop will consider how health insurance works in the United States and how our current system creates poor incentives. We will discuss efforts to address this crisis through both health policy and the startup ecosystem.

Sebastian Caliri
Partner, 8VC
About
Education as Self Fashioning: Marrying Philosophy and Practice in the Academy
A common image of philosophy is a bespectacled professor retreating from society to contemplate existence, divorced from practical reality. But philosophy owes its origins to a surprisingly practical and ever urgent question: how can we live the good life? This workshop will offer an overview of how some of history’s greatest philosophers approached timeless questions on character, suffering, and meaning in the pursuit of a life well lived. We’ll then descend from the ladder of theory into practical advice about making the most out of the modern academic experience and how philosophy can guide us in our journeys beyond.

Jason Zhao
Cofounder, Story Protocol
About
Fireside chat with 20-year-old serial entrepreneur and investor, Christian Elam
Learn from the inspiring story of Christian Elam, a self-taught software engineer, founder, investor, and advisor to startups and accelerators across industries. Christian is the youngest ever alumni from the COBE program at UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business. He also works with members of Congress to improve mental health policy.

Christian Elam
Founding General Partner, Bachmanity Capital
About
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Austin, TX

Course Offerings

June 5-7, 2023
Learning from Data
If you buy stock in a friend’s startup, will you get rich or lose it all? Can you diagnose a patient’s cancer type by examining his gene expression? Working with R and RStudio, use big data to make predictions and classifications that were nearly impossible a generation ago.

David Ruth
Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics, UATX
About
The Corporation and Modern Society
What does Benjamin Franklin have to teach us about Steve Jobs? Do corporations benefit society? Examine the historical and contemporary roots of corporate capitalism, with particular attention to the history of the idea of a corporation from the 16th and 17th centuries to today. Students will read selections from Benjamin Franklin, Milton Friedman, and economists Berle and Means.

Charles W. Calomiris
Dean of Economics, Politics, & History, UATX
About
Shakespeare’s Hamlet
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an intellectual called upon to act. But what should he do? What kind of hero should he try to be? Christian or “antique Roman”? Catholic or Protestant? Medieval or modern? Explore Shakespeare's infamous drama, followed by discussion of Tom Stoppard's wonderful comic play about Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

Patrick Gray
Dean  of Arts & Letters, UATX
About
Philosopher on Trial
Why did Socrates compare us to prisoners chained to the bottom of a cave? Why did he think the gods of Greek myth didn’t deserve to be worshipped? Why did the Athenians execute him? Explore Plato’s famous Cave Image, Socrates’ trial, and the meaning of religion. Readings include Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, and an excerpt from the Republic.

Jacob Howland
Provost And Dean of Intellectual Foundations, UATX
About
American Political Thought
Is America just? Study the animating ideas of the American republic. Attention will be paid to the natural rights teaching of the American founding, the design of the American Constitution, debates over slavery, and persistent issues in American politics. Students will consider the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, Lincoln’s speeches, and some excerpts from Tocqueville and Nietzsche.

Loren Rotner
ASSISTANT PROVOST AND ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INTELLECTUAL FOUNDATIONS & POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, UATX
About
Chance, Games, & Decisions
In times of uncertainty, how should we make decisions? What probability tools do we need to confront the next pandemic, hurricane, or war? How can game theory improve sports and business strategies? Learn to solve high-stakes problems by applying probability to the real world.

David Ruth
Dean of Science, technology, engineering, & Mathematics, UATX
About
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Workshop Hosted by the Mill Institute

The Art of Civil Discourse
Hosted by the Mill Institute at UATX, students will engage in daily dialogues about contentious issues. We'll consider the difference between certainty and confidence, practice negotiating disagreements, and confront nuances of complex issues. Each session will include hands-on activities, discussions, and practical strategies for deepening day-to-day conversations.

Elisheva Avishai
Co-Director of the mill institute, uatx
About
Rebecca Tuvel
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AND CHAIR, PHILOSOPHY, RHODES COLLEGE
About
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24

2023 recap

details And Requirements

Eligibility

The program is designed for high school juniors, seniors, and recent graduates. Therefore, high school students currently enrolled in grades 10, 11, 12, or gap year students may apply.

Location & Dates

New York City, NY: October 6-8, 2023

This three-day program starts in the evening on Friday, October 6, runs all day Saturday and Sunday, and concludes Sunday evening. Each student will take one course for its entirety, plus additional workshops.

As this is not an overnight program, those from outside the New York City region will be required to make their own arrangements for lodging. UATX cannot provide housing nor help with housing requests. UATX is not responsible for supervising, chaperoning, or otherwise caring for students outside the hours of the program. Programming will conclude promptly each day.

applications now closed.

Rolling Admission | Final Deadline to Apply: October 1, 2023
Applications closed

your questions answered

What is the cost to attend?

Thanks to the generous support of our donors, tuition and lunch are free. However, participants are responsible for their travel and lodging expenses as well as the purchase of materials and books. Any additional expenses will be participants’ responsibility. Particpants are expected to bring a laptop or tablet.

Are applicants required to be U.S. citizens?

No. Applicants are not required to be U.S. citizens, but they must be proficient in the English language. At this time, UATX cannot provide assistance with visa applications nor with lodging or housing needs.

What is required to apply?

Applicants must submit each of the following: (1) Unofficial standardized test score record (PSAT/SAT/ACT/CLT), or explanation why none is available; (2) High school transcript with at least 3 semesters of grades; (3) In addition, a permission form from a parent or guardian and a liability waiver are required to matriculate into the program.

Can I receive academic credit, continuing education credits, credit hours, a diploma, or any other measure of completion for participating in this program?

No. Our program is not a credit-bearing or degree program. Students may not earn continuing education credits, credit hours, or a diploma for participation in this program.

Is there a deadline to apply?

Admissions are made on a rolling basis, so early applications are encouraged. Final deadline to apply is November 27, 2023

Further questions?

Please email IFHS@uaustin.org

Voices of

UATX

UATX's First-Ever High School Program
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Kathleen Stock & Deirdre McCloskey's Groundbreaking Debate
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Forbidden Courses Highlights (2022)
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What others are saying

“This was the first time since I started college that I have felt like I truly learned something.”

UATX Student
From Dartmouth College

“If I were a high school senior, looking for a college to go to, my first choice would be...the University of Austin. In. A. Heartbeat.”

Malcolm Gladwell
Journalist, Author, & Public Speaker

“Let me tell you, that was the best educational experience I’ve ever had in my life.”

UATX Student
From UT-Austin

“UATX gave [my daughter] the increasingly rare opportunity for true intellectual exploration in an environment that valued civil discourse, open inquiry, and the pursuit of truth.”

Mother of UATX Student

“For the first time in my life, I truly felt comfortable expressing any views I believed in and was able to have healthy disagreement.”

UATX Student
From the University of British Columbia

“I just love that people [at UATX] are building something and trying to do it better.”

Andrew Yang
Businessman & Political Candidate

“I truly feel like I’ve learned more here than I’ve learned in my undergraduate experience in college, in just a short amount of time.”

UATX Student
From Brown University

“The most hope-giving event in higher ed in years: the launch of University of Austin, a new university constructed around the telos of truth. I want my kids to go there.”

Jonathan Haidt
Social Psychologist, New York University

“I was at the Forbidden Courses for a week. It felt like a lifetime. I think that’s because we did so much living. Every conversation was a full spiritual meal.”

UATX Student
From Thomas Aquinas College

Schools represented by our Students

Yale University
Wellesley College
Washington and Lee University
University of Virginia
University of Toronto
University of Texas at Austin
University of Pennsylvania
University of Oxford
University of Notre Dame
University of Michigan
University of Melbourne
University of Chicago
University of Central Florida
University of Cambridge
University of California Los Angeles
Yale University
Wellesley College
Washington and Lee University
University of Virginia
University of Toronto
University of Texas at Austin
University of Pennsylvania
University of Oxford
University of Notre Dame
University of Michigan
University of Melbourne
University of Chicago
University of Central Florida
University of Cambridge
University of California Los Angeles
University of Bristol
University College London
University College Dublin
Université du Québec à Montréal
Universidad Francisco Marroquin
Universidad de Granada
Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico
Tulane University
TU Munich
Thomas Aquinas College
The University of Edinburgh
The New School
The Juilliard School
The American University of Paris
Texas A&M University
University of Bristol
University College London
University College Dublin
Université du Québec à Montréal
Universidad Francisco Marroquin
Universidad de Granada
Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico
Tulane University
TU Munich
Thomas Aquinas College
The University of Edinburgh
The New School
The Juilliard School
The American University of Paris
Texas A&M University
Stanford University
St. John's College
Sorbonne Université
Schwarzman College/Tsinghua University
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus
Rice University
Princeton University
Pennsylvania State University
Ohio State University
Occidental College
Northwestern University
Northumbria University
Northeastern University
New York University
Stanford University
St. John's College
Sorbonne Université
Schwarzman College/Tsinghua University
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus
Rice University
Princeton University
Pennsylvania State University
Ohio State University
Occidental College
Northwestern University
Northumbria University
Northeastern University
New York University
National Intelligence University
Monmouth University
Middlebury College
McGill University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
London School of Economics
LMU Munich
King's College London
Indiana University- Bloomington
Imperial College London
Hong Kong University
Hillsdale College
HEC Montréal
Harvard University
Georgetown University
National Intelligence University
Monmouth University
Middlebury College
McGill University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
London School of Economics
LMU Munich
King's College London
Indiana University- Bloomington
Imperial College London
Hong Kong University
Hillsdale College
HEC Montréal
Harvard University
Georgetown University
Ecole Normale Supérieure
Duke University
Dartmouth College
Cornell University
Columbia University
College of William & Mary
Clemson University
Claremont McKenna College
Catholic University of Paris
Carnegie Mellon University
Brown University
Brigham Young University
Boston University
Boston College
Baylor University
Ecole Normale Supérieure
Duke University
Dartmouth College
Cornell University
Columbia University
College of William & Mary
Clemson University
Claremont McKenna College
Catholic University of Paris
Carnegie Mellon University
Brown University
Brigham Young University
Boston University
Boston College
Baylor University

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Undergraduate Program (Fall 2024)

Our distinctive undergraduate curriculum will combine the rich and varied inheritance of the past with the most compelling ideas of the present to help students see things whole, form sound judgment, and translate knowing into doing and making. Students will train with the world’s leading scholars and innovators, while creating and building with purpose.

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Our Principles

UATX prepares thoughtful and ethical innovators, builders, leaders, public servants and citizens through open inquiry and civil discourse. Our commitment to the pursuit of truth arises from our confidence that the nature of reality can be discerned, albeit incompletely, by those who seek to understand it, and from our belief that the quest to know, though unending, is an ennobling, liberating, and productive endeavor.

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