Great Ideas Summer Institute

Are you interested in studying history and politics at the college level? Do you want to engage and develop a deeper understanding of American citizenship? Then, the Great Ideas Summer Institute (GISI) at Samford University is for you!

This summer program is a unique week-long academic experience that gives you an opportunity to enjoy the energy of a college classroom, engage ideas that form the essence of American citizenship and develop friendships with other exceptional high school students.


The institute traces the theme of “The Idea of Citizenship in the American Republic.” You will discuss the Greek origins of Western politics, Roman understandings of citizenship, the case for the American Revolution, the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist debates and the creation of the United States Constitution. You will also look at conceptions of citizenship through the works of Abraham Lincoln, the 19th Amendment and Justice Thurgood Marshall.


All classes are discussion oriented and are led by full-time Samford professors. Classes consist of three daily sessions (two in the morning and one in the afternoon). Each day, you will arrive on campus by 8:45 a.m., attend morning classes, eat lunch, attend an afternoon class and enjoy socializing in the same way Samford University students do during the regular academic year. You will be assisted during your stay by student representatives from Samford’s University Fellows, and Howard College of Arts and Sciences’ Stockham Scholars and John Howard Scholars. Classes will end at 3 p.m. each afternoon. 

What Makes GISI Unique?

Most high schools teach using secondary texts (traditional textbooks explaining key historical events or summaries of important documents). At GISI, you will read the original texts and discuss them with a community of intellectually curious students and professors who will challenge you to think about the material on a deeper level, including the historical and philosophical contexts. This experience will make you a better high school student and help prepare you for college. In addition, you will develop a mature and reflective understanding of American citizenship, and the history and political philosophy of constitutional republics.

When is GISI?

The 2024 Great Ideas Summer Institute will run June 2–7.


Rising juniors and seniors in high school are eligible to apply. We do not have specific educational requirements. However, we do have a limited number of spaces and cannot accept all applicants.

Cost: $950

Apply to GISI