Future Leaders Institute

UNH Residential Summer Camp in Philosophy, Politics, Ethics, and Global Justice

Rolling Admissions: Still Accepting Applications! 
A promotional postcard with dates and theme for the 2024 Future Leaders Institute

Summer 2024 Dates

Sunday, July 28 (1:00 Drop off)

Saturday, August 3 (1:00 Departure)

2024 Theme: Technology and the Future of Humanity

Founded in 2014, The Future Leaders Institute offers a residential philosophy camp at UNH for thoughtful high-school students to discuss big ideas in a collaborative environment while making friends and enjoying summer in coastal New Hampshire.

Award winning faculty Nick Smith (UNH Philosophy), Nina Windgätter (UNH Philosophy), and Eden Suoth (Oyster River Social Studies) bring interdisciplinary and highly interactive learning approaches to immerse students in social and political philosophy and coach them to apply these powerful tools to current issues. The theme for 2024 is Technology and the Future of Humanity, and we will discuss various topics related to human progress, artificial intelligence, automated labor, advanced weaponry, social media and big data, gaming and virtual reality, space exploration and colonization, and the search for alien intelligence.

We aim to introduce students to challenging ideas while creating an emotionally comfortable “pre-college” environment. Past participants have flourished in their cohorts, and we channel this infectious energy toward building leadership and social skills that will serve them well in college and beyond. FLI tends to be an especially good fit for students interested in Ethics Bowl, Socratic Society, Model United Nations, debate, and similar activities.


 The Future Leaders Institute is very generously supported by the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project (RGSCP). Thanks to this funding, all accepted applicants receive a Future Leaders Scholarship. Accepted participants are expected to cover costs to get to and from UNH, but once here the scholarship covers housing, food, tuition, field trips, and other entertainment. A little “pocket money” is nice but not essential.

We request a $200 deposit to secure a place in the program, and we will refund this deposit upon completion of the program. We ask for this deposit because space in the program is limited and highly sought-after. Students who accept the offer but withdraw at the last minute can deprive other deserving students on the waitlist of the opportunity to attend. If providing this deposit creates financial hardship, please email nick.smith@unh.edu to discuss. Thank you!

About UNH

 You can find more information about our wonderful UNH and Seacoast New Hampshire Community on the Visit Campus page, and we especially enjoy this Virtual Campus Tour.

Nick and Scott Smith (not related!) founded FLI in 2014. Before becoming a UNH Philosophy Professor, Nick worked as a litigator for a major NYC law firm and as a judicial clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He authored two books on apologies, and he regularly appears in places like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NPR, BBC and elsewhere to discuss issues of remorse when people mess up. He is obsessed with the craft of “student-centered” teaching, and he often finds himself refereeing discussions for students ranging from preschoolers to retirees. Nick’s kids attend FLI, so he’s especially invested in the quality of the program and he relishes his role as the resident camp dad. For more on Nick, check out "Philosophy Matters: Think philosophy is just an intellectual exercise? Try sitting in on one of Nick Smith's classes." Here’s Nick on Radiolab.

Scott Smith founded FLI with Nick. He is professor and chair of UNH’s department of Classics, Humanities, and Italian Studies. A self-described “weird child,” Scott has published extensively in ancient mythography (the way the Greeks and Romans organized and interpreted their own mythical stories) and the philosopher-poet Seneca the Younger. He has received every major teaching award at UNH. His efforts leading the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project make FLI financially possible. For an article on Scott, see An Accidental Professor.

Nina Windgätter (Ph.D. University of Michigan) leads UNH’s business ethics program, moving the moral compass for about 1000 student leaders annually. She grew up in Alaska, worked as a soccer referee, and now specializes in the ethics and philosophy of sports. Nina is our most seasoned Ethics Bowl coach. Here’s Nina winning the UNH Teaching Excellence Award.

Eden Suoth is a UNH Philosophy alum, and a Fulbright Scholar who studies transitional justice and the Indonesian genocide. An exceptionally gifted leader and educator, Eden currently teaches philosophy and social studies at Oyster River High School down the road from UNH. Here’s Eden’s profile as a UNH student and his Takeover of UNH Snapchat.

Check back for information on our 2024 All-Star teaching assistants, who are central to the 24/7 “vibe” of the camp.

Time Activity
7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast at Holloway Commons
9:00-11:00 a.m. Discussion on “Calibers” of Artificial Intelligence: What can it do now, and what will it be able to do when?
11:00 a.m. Case Study: When should A.I. make decisions for you, and when should you make them yourself?
11:30 a.m.

Policy Session: Evaluating the A.I. Moratorium Proposed by Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and others.

12:00-2:00 p.m. Lunch at Holloway Commons to continue discussions with teaching assistants/UNH Outdoor Pool/Rest
2:00-4:00 p.m. Ethics Bowl-style rounds on case studies on regulating AI in labor markets and on international policies regarding military use of A.I.
4:00-6:00 p.m. Reading/Research/Free Time/Pool/Rest
6:00-7:00 p.m. Group Dinner and Ice Cream at the UNH Dairy Bar. Could an A.I. ever experience the taste of a hot fudge sundae?
7:15 p.m. Screening and Discussion of film Her, on a man who falls in love with an A.I.
11:00 p.m. Lights Out!

This was one of the best two weeks of my life I really enjoyed it.

One of the greatest experiences of my life! I am so grateful I did it!

The professors were so genuine and kind!

The professors really cared about us and taught in a way that was informative and entertaining.

I appreciated the focus and attention they put towards us. I feel like most professors of their prestige wouldn't give so much undivided attention to the students.

My favorite experience was engaging with and meeting the other students at camp. FLI always attracts a group of intelligent, fun, and friendly kids. It was great to debate, learn, discuss, and become friends with all of them.

I loved the daily routines, but also enjoyed the fun little trips we had like Mendum's and the Dairy Bar.

[Our child] was blown away by the opportunity to socialize and chat with professors. He felt heard and valued. Many of his fondest memories are of the conversations he had while there. And from what I can tell, the material was pitched at just the right level.

My child had nothing but wonderful things to say about both the professors and the TAs.

FLI was life changing for [our son] - an immersive experience that engaged and inspired all parts of him. When he got back, he had a kind of glow - the look every parent hopes their kid will eventually have. The one that says, "I have found my people, my place, my thing, my self." We were lucky he came home!

[Our daughter] is still aglow... it was a tremendous experience.

It was a remarkable experience... the schedule was very well done to provide the students enough time to enjoy their time in Durham and get to know each other out of class.

It was an outstanding value. Searching for similar programs showed a typical cost of $5-8K for a week long course. FLI was very affordable.

The discussions were great and I loved how it didn’t end in the classroom. The debate was great and it was an awesome addition along with the end of the week congress hearing [on the financial meltdown of 2008].

Professors Smith & Smith are outstanding instructors, [my child’s] peers engaging, and the facilities a great showcase on your part for UNH. Cathy Leach was top notch, too. Will definitely carve out a week next summer if a similar program runs again.

After UNH, [our child] went to a pre-college program at Brown University. He thought the UNH program exceeded the Brown program by far!

I also want to express to you how amazing FLI was and that I took away so much knowledge from that experience.

The whole thing from start to finish was outstanding… The staff were so skilled and full of passion both for their subjects but also in terms of the whole process of teaching. They both seemed to really enjoy young people and made learning both exciting and fun from everything [my child] shared.

The experience couldn't have been any better.

It was an absolutely incredible experience and I pity those who will not be able to participate in a program such as I did.

Some of the best parts of the week [were] the conversations and debates; this allowed for interesting topics and engaging discussion.

[I loved] going to the pond, and learning about corruption within government, businesses, and corruption and the different systems like libertarianism, socialism…and capitalism.
During my time at FLI, I most enjoyed learning about such a wide range of topics while meeting so many new and interesting people. It was interesting to challenge myself to think about and discuss issues that I had not considered before the program, and leave with an understanding of them.
My favorite experience at FLI was the open debate and discussion of big problems. Being able to debate issues with people who had strongly differing philosophies opened and expanded my mind in a way that has never happened anywhere else. In particular, I enjoyed the organized debates where participants were separated into different sides.
I really enjoyed the discussions we had at mealtimes amongst ourselves and with the TAs, Professors, and guest lecturers.
I enjoyed every second of my experience.
Communications leading up to and during the program were very helpful. We were especially appreciative of the daily updates. We looked forward to reading them and felt confident that our daughter was learning and growing under the direction of the FLI team.
Amazing and [our son] can't wait until next year, he had a fantastic time.
Our daughter absolutely loved her time at FLI. She was challenged academically and personally to grow and think outside of the box on many issues she had not previously encountered. She loved her interactions with the professors, mentors and other students. As parents we really believe that our daughter's experience at FLI provided her with insight into the intensity of study and expectations of quality work at the college level. She has expressed interest in returning to the program next summer. We were all very pleased with her experience.
FLI was a great value for the cost.
We really liked everything about the structure of the camp. We especially liked the fact that the kids were not coddled in the process and the topics were serious and relevant. Even if they never come in contact with the discussion topics again, they were required to independently research, discuss and respectfully disagree and debate with facts and not blind emotion. We believe this is a skill too often lacking in our society. We hope that experiences like FLI will encourage our daughter to always seek to educate herself on all sides of an issue and form opinions founded in knowledge and to learn to disagree respectfully. We would like to see the topics continue to be centered on relevant issues that affect not only today's society, but also will potentially impact future generations.

We will review applicants as we receive them and until we reach capacity, so apply soon!

Please note that you will be asked to provide names and contact information for two academic or extracurricular references on the application. You should also prepare responses to the following questions before starting:

  • Why do you hope to participate in the FLI philosophy program? (Limit: 1300 characters, ~200 words)
  • Explain in 200 words or less what you think is the most important technology ever created by humans. We already know what ChatGPT says, so answer with your own thoughts! (Limit: 1300 characters, ~200 words)

Application progress cannot be saved, so if you leave the application without completing it, you will need to start from the beginning.

If you are accepted into the program, we will send further instructions for registration. Questions about registration can be directed to Future.Leaders@unh.edu.

Apply for FLI 

Nick Smith

Professor of Philosophy

  • A group of four FLI attendees pose together
  • A red brick dormitory with elevated walkway from the back
  • A lecturer stands at the front of a classroom while students listen
  • FLI attendees take a group picture at Newcastle Beach
  • FLI attendees stand on a rock at Mendum's Pond
  • Two female FLI attendees smile
  • FLI attendees play a board game under at picnic tables under a roof
  • A large circular pool
  • A red brick dormitory with white pillars
  • FLI attendees play a board game in the dorm
  • FLI attendees sit for a discussion in a cafe
  • FLI attendees jump in unison near the beach
  • FLI attendees listen to a speaker in a classroom
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  • FLI attendees play the board game Monopoly
  • A faculty member lectures in front of a whiteboard