Department of Philosophy

Mathematics and Science Center, Room 752
146 Library Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-3390
fax: (248) 370-3157

High School Outreach Program

The great majority of American students have no opportunity to study philosophy until college, despite a growing body of research that shows that pre-collegiate engagement with philosophy helps students improve their reasoning, motivation, independence, and self-esteem. Although Southeast Michigan is fortunate to have a thriving culture of high school ethics bowls, there are few opportunities for students at most high schools to learn about philosophy. The goal of the High School Outreach Program at Oakland University is to fill this gap, by providing opportunities for high schoolers to learn about philosophy.

The Outreach Program currently sponsors two sorts of activities: summer philosophy camp, and philosophy takeovers. Learn more about each of these programs by clicking on the tabs below.

Support Philosophy Summer Camps

Philosophy Summer Camp

Philosophy Camp is a summer camp for high schoolers that provides HS students and undergraduates an opportunity that combines learning, leadership, and humor.

Our 2023 theme is Turtles All the Way Down. We will talk about the attempt to ground our knowledge, the attempt to understand the origins of things, and the attempt to get at first principles (for any numbers of philosophical subjects).

The 2023 Philosophy Camp will take place from July 11-14 (Tuesday thru Friday), and for the first time, it will include an overnight option.  We will spend the day reading and conversing, and we will spend the evening engaged in unique and fun activities (campfires, scavenger hunts, tree climbing -- you know, very Socratic activities).

Register for day camp and overnight options

Sign up for our mailing list, to know when registration opens and to keep abreast of new developments.

More information and fun stuff can be found on OU's Philosophy Department's linktree, including the Oakland University Philosophy Camp Facebook.

We will be hosting a number of faculty philosophers and OU undergraduates, and welcoming a couple dozen local high school students to our campus.  The camp will have day camp and overnight options.  We will be providing three meals for overnight students, and lunch for those who sign up for the day camp option.

If you have questions about camp, please check out our FAQ in the second tab on this page.  Additional questions should be addressed to

Philosophy Camp FAQ

When is this year’s camp?

July 11th-14nd, 2023.

Is there an overnight option?

Yes!  You can sign up to spend the night for three nights (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday), or you can just sign up for the day camp option (10 a.m. - 5 p.m. every day).

Where will this year’s camp be?

We will based in the 2nd floor of the Human Health Sciences building on Oakland’s campus, but we will also spend time on the philosophy floors of the MSC (6th and 7th floor), at the Oakland Center, and out in the sunny vistas of the lovely Oakland University Campus.

What is the cost of camp?

The day camp option is $200, and the overnight option is $650. This includes meals, activities, snacks, and (for overnight campers) housing.

What is the theme for this year’s camp?

Our theme is Turtles All the Way Down.  This means that we will be engaged in talking about various philosophical questions that come up when we try to ground our knowledge or activities on some "fundamental" basis. We'll apply this to looking at ethics, knowledge, science, politics, and a variety of other philosophical topics. We have professional philosophers at the ready to help students dive into talking about these questions.

What will we be doing during camp?

A typical camp day will structured around two lectures by philosophy professors at OU, interspersed with interesting activities, conversations, long walks, musical interludes, funny clips, frisbee tossing, ethics bowl preparation, and an enjoyable and leisurely lunch. There will be a lot of open air, a lot of space to think, and a lot of great people. This is not like any camp you’ve been to before, but those who have attended will never forget the experience.

Are meals provided?

Yes. We will be eating lunch at the OU dorms every day. Believe it or not, the food there is pretty good! 

Students who stay overnight will be provided three square meals a day - actually, we're not that sure about the shape of the meals, but they will be existent.

What do I need to bring?

Bring yourself, your smartphone, a notebook and a pen. If you don’t have a smartphone, no worries, we can provide whatever you need to do activities that involve an electronic device during camp.

Did you say “ethics bowl”? What’s that?

Ethics Bowl is a type of friendly competition that takes place between various high schools or colleges, based on how well you and your teammates can argue in favor of a certain position on a topic of ethical contention. It’s kind of like debate, except you don’t have to disagree with your opponents.  During the week of camp, we put on a Mock Ethics Bowl, which is a sort of abbreviated version of the competition. You will have undergrad majors in philosophy help you form your arguments, and at the end of the week, you’ll have the opportunity to show off your argumentative skills!

News and Events

Phil Camp 2019 Recap

The summer 2019 Philosophy Camp was a great time for all! We had 19 campers, almost double the participation in 2018. Students came from a variety of high schools to discuss the theme of "identity" from a variety of perspectives, including ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of gender, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy. One of our undergraduate student leaders said, "My experience was fantastic, to say the least. I think I really found my calling, working with philosophy at the high school level." Another commented on the leadership skills gained from this experience, saying, "Philosophy Camp helped me practice the roles of public speaker, planner, improviser, and friend all at once."

Philosophy Summer Camp 2018 a Big Success

On July 23-27, 2018, the Oakland University Philosophy Department hosted its first high school summer camp. With presentations from Elysa White, Joyce Havstad, Mark Navin, Anthony Williams, Paul Graves, and many others, it was a tremendous success. Attendees of the camp were enthusiastic about the camp's future, and several of them expressed interest in going on to study philosophy at a college level.

Research on the Effects of Pre-College Philosophy Instruction Underway

The Daily Nous discusses a new summer camp program in philosophy that is researching the effectiveness of such camps.  

Oakland University Philosophy Summer Camp Starts Summer 2018

During the summer of 2018, the Oakland Philosophy Department will be having its inaugural week of Philosophy Summer Camp! Many thanks to students Samantha Sinclair, Genevieve Schmidt, Ian Anderson, and Nicole Diroff in helping make this happen.