Idea Lab is a three-day residential institute where Oregon high school teachers and 125-150 rising seniors from across the state explore the pursuit of happiness through workshops, lectures, films, and discussions.
Founded in 2006, the goals of Idea Lab are to provide a challenging, college-like experience for a diverse mix of teens, to help teens develop critical thinking skills and apply those skills in considering how the pursuit of happiness relates to areas such as consumer culture, religion, politics, education, and civic engagement; and to provide a unique professional development opportunity for teachers. Teachers and teens learning together make Idea Lab unique among teacher continuing education and college readiness programs in Oregon and nationwide.
Idea Lab was created through a unique partnership between Oregon Humanities and a small number of public school districts and private schools in the Portland area. The founding project team of school superintendents and principals identified a need for bright and motivated students to be challenged through a unique learning experience outside of the classroom, and to interact with peers from diverse schools and backgrounds. Since then, nearly 700 rising seniors have participated in Idea Lab. Oregon Humanities has also trained 133 teachers, who have designed our innovative and challenging curriculum and together helped deliver outstanding programming to young Oregonians each summer.
Judges applauded this nomination for its use of humanities address social issues and achieve long-term impact and its effort to reach underserved youth. One judge commented that the program “responds to the need for college readiness resources for those who lack family and financial support…and the subject of the [program] couldn’t be any better: happiness as a current research area and as an end of education itself.”
This program won a Schwartz Prize in 2014 for outstanding work in the public humanities. To view the full nominating statement please click here.