Vassar’s Summer Immersion in the Liberal Arts program was launched through The Engaged Pluralism Initiative in 2019. The primary aim of the program is to increase student awareness about how they might actively and collaboratively steer their educational journeys. Click here to read about last year’s program.

Summer Immersion 2020 will be held online Wednesday, July 22 – Friday, August 7 and is free of charge.


Summer Immersion in the Liberal Arts prepares incoming Vassar students to navigate, influence, and maximize the college experience. Participating in Immersion reduces “culture shock,” exposes students to a curriculum that supports academic success, and thereby facilitates the journey from high school to college student. In addition, the program partners first-years  with other students and employees of the College in order to assist with building community. . These partnerships  also play a constructive role in shaping Vassar’s institutional culture, and deepens engagement with on-campus and off-campus communities.

Program Goals:

  • Expose incoming first-year students to Vassar’s liberal arts traditions and help students engage these traditions with the wealth of their respective experiences backgrounds
  • Cultivate senses of belonging, self-confidence, and an ability to appreciate and harness the energy and potential of engaged pluralism
  • Provide students with early exposure to, and experience with, Vassar’s resources–its people!

What To Expect During the Program

In this program you will have opportunities to:

  • Actively engage with professors and begin to get a glimpse into living and learning in the liberal arts
  • Participate in a writing workshop to experience the art of authoring at Vassar.
  • Begin your academic & social life at Vassar through learning within a cohort of your peers from the Class of 2024
  • Build your network of Vassar faculty, students, staff, and administrators who will help you embark upon your journey

Academic Offerings 

Writing Workshop: What is Writing?

Everyone has a writing process. The way that you write is unique. Similarly, you come to ideas and issues with different ways of making meaning out of them; you come from a certain cultural perspective and you have had experiences that shape the way you think and process the world. In this three-part workshop, we will explore your writing process to better understand how and why you write—knowledge that will aid you throughout the course of your academic career at Vassar.

We’ll begin by thinking about the role of critical writing in the academy by summarizing and analyzing another author’s work. We will then move on to consider some of the more technical and stylistic aspects of college writing, and how different authors approach writing from different perspectives. We will end with a session in which you can ask me anything about writing in general, writing at Vassar, or writing for a particular discipline. My hope is to allay some of your anxieties by making the process and expectations of writing more transparent.

At the end of this workshop, you will be better prepared to begin writing across the curriculum at Vassar.

Instructed by: Dr. Matthew B. Schultz, Director of the Writing Center

Conversations in the Liberal Arts 2020: Lectures, Office Hours, Conversation Circles, and Introductions to fields of knowledge

Conversations in the Liberal Arts 2020 opens up a number of opportunities for early exposure to Vassar’s dynamic liberal arts education. This year, the team of instructors  includes faculty and administrators in the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and community engaged learning. Conversations in the Liberal Arts allows  you to explore a variety of academic disciplines, begin building your Vassar network, and interact on a regular basis with faculty, administrators, alumnae/i, and your peers from the Vassar Class of 2024. This summer’s focus will also be on the dynamics, practices, challenges of, and possibilities for, conversation in and beyond the liberal arts.

Conversation Sessions

To complete this program, participating students are expected to attend a minimum of three conversation sessions with participating instructors (please see the list below).  To learn more about them and their fields, please take a look at our Faculty and Team Page. Descriptions of the specific sessions to be offered this summer will be available to students once they have confirmed their participation in the program. 

Colin Aitken, Assistant Professor of Biology

Hadley Bergstrom, Assistant Professor of Psychological Science and Neuroscience & Behavior

Andrew K. Bush, Professor of Hispanic Studies

Brian Daly, Professor of Physics

Andrew Davison, Professor of Political Science

Lisa R. Kaul, Director, Office of Community-Engaged Learning

Timothy Koechlin, Senior Lecturer in International Studies and Urban Studies and Director of International Studies

Candice M. Lowe Swift, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and International Studies

Adam Lowrance, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics

Himadeep Muppidi, Professor of Political Science on the Betty Goff Cook Cartwright Chair

Lori Newman, Assistant Professor of Psychological Science and Neuroscience & Behavior

Brooke Otten, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Sarah Pearlman, Associate Professor of Economics

José G. Perillán, Assistant Professor of Physics and Science, Technology and Society

Jodi Schwarz, Associate Professor of Biology

Discovering Your Network & Resources

The heart of what Summer Immersion offers students is the opportunity to forge meaningful connections. We know that the personal connections that students make early-on in their college career are vitally important to their ability to succeed as learners. For that reason, Immersion centers the formation of these connections, so that our students will always be able to rely on the bonds that they form during the program, through the challenges–and the joys– of the academic year.

Interactive sessions  and connections with people you will meet in-person during your first semester, including:

  • Student Growth & Engagement
  • Student Living & Wellness
  • Residential Life & House Advisors
  • Office of Community Engaged Learning
  • Course Pre-Registration with Registrar & Dean of First-Years
  • Transitions
  • Computing & Information Services 
  • Financial Aid
  • Your peers, other Immersion Students