Young Philosopher’s Conference to be Held at UNH March 16
For the past seven years, the Souhegan High School Ethics Forum has hosted HYPE (Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts), inspiring high school students all over New England to participate in philosophical discussions that promote leadership, citizenry and ethics.
This year’s HYPE event is hosted and co-sponsored by the University of New Hampshire and will take place on Thursday, March 16, 2017. The program will center on the issue of responsible citizenry. Fourteen hundred students and 100 faculty are anticipated to attend, representing high schools from all over New England.
The 2017 keynote speaker is Governor John Lynch, who will also run an educator session. This year’s HYPE guiding question, What does it mean to be a responsible citizen?, coincides with activities conceived and coordinated by Constitutionally Speaking, a partnership project of New Hampshire Humanities, NH Institute for Civics Education, UNH School of Law, NH Supreme Court Society, Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth and Saint Anselm College’s NH Institute of Politics.
The Souhegan Ethics Forum has created working relationships with many high schools in the region centering on the mission of enhancing leadership, ethics and philosophy education. Bedford High School in Bedford, N.H. and Spaulding High School in Rochester, N.H. have become actively involved in leading HYPE and helping to run the small groups that are essential to HYPE’s overall success. Last year’s conference, also held at UNH, demonstrated continued growth in both the number of students who attended and also the quality of the student conversations.
The Ethics Forum Senior Leadership Team, a group of high school students at the fore of the program, has been instrumental in uniting universities, colleges and high schools towards an important goal — bringing high school students together to have important philosophical conversations centered on ethics and leadership. There are currently 48 schools actively participating in the HYPE coalition.
The Ethics Forum recently coupled its effort with the NH State Council for the Humanities receiving support from both this organization directly and through a prestigious Pulitzer Foundation Grant. Three years ago, the Ethics Forum was awarded a renewable prestigious RGSCP Grant (Responsible Governance and Sustainability Citizenship Project) from UNH to fund HYPE. This grant has led to the UNH Philosophy Department’s formal endorsement of the Ethics Forum and the use of UNH Durham’s campus each year. It has also led to the affiliation of HYPE with UNH’s emerging summer philosophy program called FLI or The Future Leaders Institute and the LEAP or Leadership Empowering Authentic Progress Conference held each year at UNH Manchester. The results of this support can be seen in the rising levels of attendance at the HYPE conference and the emerging programs that HYPE has spurred.
The Ethics Forum was also awarded the 2014 Granite State Award by the University System of New Hampshire for the group’s “dedication to creating an academically rich environment for New Hampshire students to connect through philosophical discussions.” Besides its largest sponsor, UNH Durham, the Ethics Forum continues to build a strong coalition of post-secondary institutional support including Granite State College, Merrimack College, Saint Anselm College, UNH Manchester and the University of New Orleans. This statewide recognition has not gone unnoticed by universities, colleges and high schools throughout New Hampshire and the country.
In addition, organizations such as the PLATO Institute based in Manhattan, New York, have recently begun work with the HYPE group, helping to enhance philosophy education across the country.
The Souhegan Ethics Forum also continues to work on a number of other projects besides the HYPE conference each year. It continues its elementary mentoring program at Mont Vernon Village School and the “Run for Gus” Project, to name a few. The Ethics Forum’s greatest project, however, remains centered on the statewide annual conference HYPE (Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts) founded by SHS Ethics Forum students in 2009.
Article written by: Christopher Brooks, HYPE Coordinator, Ethics Forum Advisor, Teacher; Souhegan High School, Amherst NH.