We are running the Outer Coast Year in person in Sitka during the 2020-21 academic year. To ensure the safety of students, staffulty, and the community of Sitka, we have implemented comprehensive COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the fall, which you can find here.

Apply to the Spring Semester

Outer Coast Year 2020–21

The Outer Coast Year offers a diverse cohort of up to 20 Alaskan, Lower 48, and international high school graduates a transformative educational experience in Sitka, Alaska founded on the belief that students should have agency and ownership of every aspect of their academic and personal lives and the responsibility to positively affect the communities to which they belong.

Over the course of two four-month semesters, students immerse themselves in fast-paced, intellectually rigorous academic coursework; engage in work-based service and meaningful labor in Sitka; and practice self-governance of key aspects of the Outer Coast experience. Through small seminars, close-knit residential living, and involvement in the wider Sitka community, Outer Coast Year students will learn how to identify, analyze, and address the challenges — both big and small — that face the world today.

Students in Sitka National Historical Park

Students gather for a convocation ceremony at Sitka National Historical Park and learn from Louise Brady about Lingít Aaní


Program Dates:

Fall Semester: Thursday, August 27th – Saturday, December 19th, 2020

Spring Semester: Tuesday, January 14th – Saturday, May 8th, 2021


Eligibility:

High school graduates or GED holders are eligible to apply for the Spring Semester until October 4, 2020. The application for the Fall Semester has closed.


Program Overview:

The Outer Coast Year rests on the three pillars of Academics, Service & Labor, and Self-governance. For more details on the Outer Coast Year, please see the Program Overview.


Students in Sitka

Imaan (Fishers, Indiana) and Tatum (Anchorage, AK) explore Sitka on their first day at the Outer Coast Year


Academics:

During each semester, students will participate in two consecutive, seven-week, intellectually rigorous courses that introduce students to engaging, discussion-based learning. In small seminars, students must engage fully with the material, the faculty, and their peers. Students may have the option to receive grades and academic credit for their coursework.

Term 1 — Writing and Place: What is Home?

Sanjena Sathian

Sanjena Sathian, Novelist, MFA, Iowa Writers Workshop

Read the Writing and Place: What is Home? Course Spotlight

What does it mean to belong to a place? Can writing about a place make it home? Can reading about a place transport you there? In considering these questions, we’ll read Alaskan authors to develop a relationship to the world around OCC, as well as non-Alaskans. By the end of the course, we will have new writing but also, hopefully, a richer relationship to the geographies we call home.

Term 2 — Humans and Other Animals

David Egan

David Egan, DPhil, University of Oxford

What does it mean to be human? Attempts to answer this question often draw comparisons with animals: we’re animals too, but animals of a very special kind. The aim of this course is to think about what we are as human beings by considering the way we think about our relation to other animals. Questions we’ll ask include: What relevant differences (if any) might distinguish us from other animals? How do categories like natural/unnatural or wild/domesticated shape our understanding of other animals, and how do they shape our understanding of ourselves? In what ways and to what extent can the sorts of relationships that exist between humans (e.g. friendship, political community, sexual love) exist between a human being and an animal of another species? And with these questions in mind, we’ll consider some of the uses to which animals are put—as food, as subjects of scientific experiments, as pets, etc.—and ask what sorts of limits we ought to draw to their use in these contexts. The readings for the course are intended as a springboard for investigations that will range beyond the texts and take good advantage of the Sitka community as well as our own diverse experiences with animals.

Term 3 — Political Philosophy

Term 4 — Literature


Calendar:

Fall Semester (2020)

Date Event
August 27 Arrival
September 1 – 4 Orientation
September 7 – October 22 Term 1 — Writing and Place: What is Home?
October 23 – November 1 Fall Break
November 2 Mid-semester Reflection
November 3 – December 18 Term 2 — Humans and Other Animals
    November 26 – 27 No class
December 19 Departure

Spring Semester (2021)

Date Event
January 14 Arrival
January 19 – 22 Orientation
January 25 – March 11           Term 3 — Political Philosophy
March 12 – 21 Spring Break
March 22 Mid-semester Reflection
March 23 – May 7 Term 4 — Literature
May 8 Departure