Outer Coast Summer Seminar

The Outer Coast Summer Seminar offers a diverse cohort of Alaskan and Lower 49 high school students (current sophomores and juniors) a transformative academic experience and the opportunity to engage with the world they are about to inherit.

Over the course of four weeks, students immerse themselves in a fast-paced, college-level academic course; experiment with limited powers of self-governance; and participate in a meaningful service program.

The goals for the Summer Seminar are threefold: to bring together a diverse cohort of curious and motivated high school students and create a community of learning; to offer a transformative, community-centered educational opportunity that inspires students to become forces for positive change within their own communities; and to increase the likelihood that Summer Seminar students matriculate at college by introducing them to college-level academic work and orienting them to the college admissions process.

The Outer Coast Summer Seminar does not have a fixed cost of attendance. Instead, we ask that the student and their parent(s)/guardian(s) complete the appropriate form to set their own cost of attendance based on their household’s financial means. This form will be sent to the student once their application has been reviewed. Outer Coast will meet the financial need of all students. Cost will not be a barrier to attendance.

The inaugural Outer Coast Summer Seminar took place July 6 - August 4, 2018 in Sitka, Alaska. 16 students flocked to Sitka from across Alaska and the Lower 49. Here’s a map of where the students came from. For more information on the Summer Seminar (including course information and cost of attendance), see our full Summer Seminar Program Overview. You can also hear students share their stories on this program by the local Sitka radio station KCAW.

Outer Coast Summer Seminar 2018

X'unei Lance Twitchell
Faculty X̱'unei Lance Twitchell
Sharon Schuman
Faculty Sharon Schuman
Ishmael Hope
Faculty Ishmael Hope


The academic program consists of one college-level course that introduces students to rigorous, discussion-based learning and requires them to fully engage the material, their peers, and the faculty. The course is determined by the selected pair of faculty who have terminal degrees in their respective fields and extensive teaching experience. Students receive additional academic support and mentorship from the residential teaching assistants (RTAs), who serve as tutors and run study hall.

Students also have an opportunity outside the classroom to learn more about the college experience during a series of one-hour workshops on the college admissions and financial aid processes.


Through participation in service projects, students experience the value of meaningful, hands-on community engagement. Students spend a portion of each day working on one or both community-based service projects, including local trail work and building restoration on the Sitka Fine Arts Campus. A service coordinator provides oversight and guidance through the duration of the program and supports the development of skills associated with each project.


Summer Seminar students are vested with responsibility to help govern their own community. RTAs facilitate the self-governing process but ultimately empower students to make and implement community decisions and navigate their consequences. The self-governance pillar is an opportunity for students to develop communication and leadership skills and mature as young adults.

Student Applications

The nominations form and student application for the Outer Coast Summer Seminar 2019 will go live in the coming months. These documents will be available through our newsletter.

Questions: please contact info@outercoast.org