All Blue Ridge Session students participate in self-governance, one of the three pillars of our educational model alongside labor and academics. Self-governance trains students for leadership and citizenship by asking them to take on real responsibility for their student community and the organization itself. These responsibilities range from nitty-gritty problem solving to broad strategic decision-making. All students are required to be a part of self-governance during the summer program itself, and those who are interested have the opportunity to join one of four standing committees that carry self-governance activities into the academic year.


Self-Governance in the Summer

All summers begin the same way, with students creating the political system that will govern them for the remainder of the program. This system might take on many different forms: it might follow Robert’s Rules of Order, or Quaker consensus, or something wholly original. It might have elected officials. It might have formal or informal committees. In deciding upon process of self-governance, students must evaluate the costs and benefits of different formats. How does each deal with dissent? How does each allow different voices to be heard? How does each provide legitimacy both for majority and minority opinion?

It may take weeks for that process to take its final form. But in the meantime, students nevertheless must begin using that process to make crucial decisions. Often these start small. Who will be assigned to which labor position? Who will write entries for the newsletter? How do we deal with two students who are having a dispute? By the end of the summer, students take on much bigger tasks: designing and planning the capstone field trip, crafting the application for next year’s incoming students, thinking broadly about the organization’s mission and vision.


Self-Governance in the Academic Year

During the academic year, interested graduates of the Blue Ridge Session may serve on one of four standing committees. Each standing committee is lead by student co-chairs and consists of both students and staff.

The Applications Committee is responsible for admitting the next cohort of Blue Ridge Session students. Committee members design and draft the application, thinking in particular about the essay questions. The committee additionally organizes and undertakes application reading, interviews candidates, and makes the final decision about the incoming cohort.

The Outreach and Recruitment Committee is the public-facing wing of student self-governance. The committee manages the Arete Project’s social media feeds, conducts recruitment programs at colleges and universities, handles inquiries from prospective students, and is currently in the process of starting the Arete Project blog.

The Faculty Hiring Committee recruits and hires the Seminar Chair – the faculty member responsible for the Blue Ridge Session’s academic pillar. This includes advertising, evaluating faculty applications, conducting interviews, negotiating hiring contracts, and working with the hiree on course design.

The Financial Aid Committee is responsible for keeping the Blue Ridge Session affordable and accessible to as broad an array of students as possible. The committee sets the strategy for the program’s financial aid policy, interfaces with admitted students on scholarship questions, and conducts fundraising activities.


Committee Composition


Applications Committee Outreach and Recruitment Committee
Nicole Cheng ’16 Emily Barr ’17, Co-Chair
Kavita Hardy Kavita Hardy
Hanwen Hu ’17 Annie Livingston ’16
Huiqin Hu ’17 Haitian Ma ’17
Noa Kattler Kupetz ’17, Co-Chair John Moriarty
Juna Keehn ’17, Co-Chair Katie Murphy ’15, Co-Chair
Olivia Lawrence-Weilmann ’14 Paige Parsons ’17
Laura Marcus Molly Stuart ’16
Margaret Schultz ’16
Faculty Hiring Financial Aid
Zoe Färber, ’16 Emily Clott ’17
Ruilin Fan ’17, Co-Chair Sydney Goldman ’15
Leila Faulstich-Hon ’17 Chloé Guilbert-Savary ’17, Co-Chair
Amanda Friedman ’15 Katrina Lee ’17
Jennifer Keller Laura Marcus
Laura Marcus Belén Rodriguez ’16
Shubhra Murarka ’16, Co-Chair Tabea Roschka ’17, Co-Chair
Anna Stonehocker ’17 Neel Sejer Solow ’17