Pre-College Summer Institute

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the Summer Institute has been canceled for Summer 2020.

The Summer Academy in Architecture has transitioned to an online format, see the new schedule. 

Or, check out the wide selection of online summer classes, with multiple start dates in June and July. Earning college credit has never been easier!

July 6 - 24, 2020 (canceled for Summer 2020)

Bristol, Rhode Island

Students will spend three weeks immersed in the topic of their choice, gaining hands-on experience through experiential learning. Choose from one of seven college credit-bearing courses, each of which includes community engaged projects and programming on college- and career-readiness. Students will also be mentored on how to leverage their experience into building strong college applications.

Program Highlights

  • Choose from seven different courses - each with a hands-on, project component and field trip
  • Each course is taught by a RWU professor
  • A transcript and three college credits will be issued upon successful completion (eligible for transfer into any accredited college or university)
  • Limited scholarship funds available for families with financial need
  • The program is open to US and international students

Tuition $4,500

Register by April 30th and receive $100 off! 

Room and board and all field trips are included in the tuition cost. A commuting option is available by request. 



Contact Andrea Abarca Coutts at or call 401-424-1139.

Pick the Course that Matches Your Interest!

Visual Arts Portfolio Development

Issues and Applications for a Contemporary Artistic Practice

Build your college admissions portfolio while gaining experience applying the arts to community engagement. Through drawing, mixed media, and installation, students will learn the importance of the access and inclusivity in the art world. Discussions and exercises in curatorial and professional practices will be key in emphasizing the importance of making and exhibiting art for all. At the end of the session, students and staff will host a public art event called “The Big Draw,” named for an international organization for the advancement of drawing and access. Students will learn how to market, plan, and run a visual art event meant for broader audiences. Through this experience, students will be able to thoughtfully articulate how their work as artists can impact communities locally and globally. By the end of this course, students will have the tools to construct dynamic artist statements, project proposals, and a visual arts portfolios for college admittance and professional opportunities.

Sample Schedule

Studio practice: Drawing from observation

Artist Talk 

Studio Practice: Drawing as a vehicle for broader concepts

Open Work Time

Open Studio Time 

Museum Visit 

Studio Practice: Drawing from observation

Big Draw Planning

Open Studio Time

Big Draw Planning 

Designing Virtual Reality

Exploring Virtual Reality & Virtual Environments

Throughout the United States, Virtual Reality technology is being introduced at senior homes as the technology helps to s[t]imulate out-of-home (travel) experiences and contribute positively to their overall quality of life.  This course, Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities: A Hands-on Exploration of Technologies and Landscapes, will explore how and why this technology is being used in these environments and how the participants are benefiting its usage. Participants in this course will work with the seniors at the Benjamin Church Senior Center, in Bristol, RI, as we customize VR travel experiences for them and 3d-print the headsets they will use to embark on those virtual vacations.

  • Upon successful completion of this course, students would:
  • Students would learn (through hands-on experience) the difference between virtual, augmented, and mixed reality
  • Students would study learning theories associated with these types of technologies
  • Students would explore issues related to using such technologies
  • Students would construct their own VR headset using the existing 3D printer and their phones
  • Students would work with the Bristol Community / Senior Center to meet with seniors and introduce them into the virtual world
  • Students would design/build custom VR headsets (using the 3D printer) for the senior center participants that they will later keep
  • Students would be working with senior population and performing community service guiding them through the landscapes and virtual tours
Sample Schedule

Intro to Virtual Reality 

Hands-on technology demo 

Theories of Virtual Reality 


Virtual Reality as a Teaching Tool 

Design & Fabrication 

Future of Virtual Reality 

Design & Fabrication 

Visit to Bristol Community/Senior Center


Girl Culture in the U.S.: Society’s Impact on Gender Development

This course examines the lives of girls, and makes the assertion that the study of girls needs to be separated from the study of women, and from the study of children and adolescents.  The experience of gender on the development of girls as they grow into teens and young women is profoundly affected by their social location, which is shaped by class, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and geography.  This class critically examines the assumptions about the identity of girls (particularly as “innocents”), and considers the ways in which girls are, or are not, agents of their own identity development.

Using the 20th-21st centuries as our historical frame, we will examine the lives of girls who experience marginalization as a result of identity factors that are out of their control.  We will consider the ways in which assumptions are made about their lives, and we will acknowledge the ways in which girls attempt self-representation despite their social location. We will trace these patterns in the larger social context of United States cultural history, and will draw reasonable conclusions about how gender identity is affected by cultural adversity.

To put our classroom theory into real-world, relevant practice, students will work with girls, ages 5-14, at Girls, Inc. of Taunton, which services the Taunton metro area, a socio-economically, racially, religiously, and ethnically diverse community.  The mission of Girls, Inc. inspires girls to be “strong, smart, and bold,” and “focuses on the development of the whole girl. A combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment and research-based programming equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty, and become role models in their community.”  During the summer, Girls, Inc of Taunton runs weekly themed summer camps with the motto “Fuel her fire and she will change the world.” 

Students in this class will work alongside a Girls, Inc. staff person, allowing them the opportunity to work with different age groups in various settings to promote strong, smart and bold messaging, with activities that will focus on wellness, empowerment, confidence, agency, and interpersonal relationships.  Students will spend between 18 hours on site, developing work experience, and gaining perspective on the challenges faced by girls in this local community.

Sample Schedule

On-Site at Girls, Inc. 

Lecture, Classroom

On-Site at Girls, Inc. 

Field Trip 

On-Site at Girls, Inc.

Lecture, Classroom activities 

On-Site at Girls, Inc. 

Lecture, Classroom activities 

On-Site at Girls, Inc. 

Electronics for Makers

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make things light up, move around, or collect data? Have you wondered how self-driving cars are designed, or what the “internet of things” is? This course is designed to be an introduction to electronic design using the Arduino micro-controller. The Arduino was originally designed for artists to design their own interactive works, and has been used to build everything from escape rooms to scientific instrumentation. Students will learn how to use basic sensors, lights, motors, and other electronic components to design and build their own projects. Students will engage in discussions of contemporary issues in technology and learn to effectively communicate technical information. The class as a whole will work with scientists at the Save the Bay Aquarium in Newport to develop an interactive display for visitors and water monitoring system for their tanks. Field trips and guest speakers will show students future possibilities to use their skills in any number of fields of interest.

Sample Schedule

Introduction to Electronics 

Building Simple Websites 

Propose and begin work on project 

Field trip to Boda Borg, escape room-style entertainment facility 

Instruction and demonstration in coding

Work on project 

Instruction and demonstration in coding

Work on project

Model United Nations

Model United Nations is a course that introduces students the role of the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations play in the contemporary world politics. In addition to the history, structure, and function of the main bodies of the UN, students will explore the challenges and opportunities that the United Nations faces in the 21st century. For the summer Institute, students will participate in an on-campus simulation of the Security Council exploring issues of food security.

Sample Schedule

UN in Action: Human Rights

Visit Consulate Office in Boston

UN in Action: Human Security and Environment

Visit Consulate Office in Boston

Basics of International Negotiation

Public Speaking Skills

Negotiating from Weakness

Public Speaking Skills

Visit UN Headquarters 

The Race for the White House: Campaign 2020

Summer 2020 is the heart of the presidential campaign season. This course offers the opportunity to become a thoroughly informed and active citizen during this this critical moment in American history. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the rules, process, and dynamics of the American electoral process and work to support voter engagement and the candidates of their choice. Students will interact with elected representatives from the Rhode Island Democratic and Republican parties and have opportunities to phone bank, canvass and staff campaign events. Political communication will be a central focus with an analysis of several different forms of print and digital communication studied. Whether or not they will be of voting age this November, this course allows students to make a difference in the 2020 election. There couldn’t be a better time to get educated and involved!

Sample Schedule

Political Science of Voter Behavior 

Analysis of 2016 election outcomes 

Field Trip to Secretary of State Gorbea's Office and the RI Board of Elections 

Impact of state and local laws 

Organize voter registration drive 

Analysis of Democratic Convention 

Comparison of party platforms 

Conduct voter registration drive 

Business Enterprise

Can you picture yourself turning your ideas into a successful startup?  Students will gain experience as entrepreneurs and business practitioners in analyzing the market, evaluating various business opportunities and developing business strategy and decision making processes leading to launching and advancing a business. A business simulation will enable students to test ideas in a virtual environment that replicates real-world situations.  In addition, working with Social Enterprise Greenhouse in Providence, RI, students will learn about ways in which entrepreneurs can create lucrative businesses that help solve social, environmental or cultural challenges.  Students will also develop insights into how the world’s markets work via our state-of-the-art financial investment lab — the Wiegand Center.

Sample Schedule

Positioning Strategies & Bicycle Case Exercise.

Simulation Round 2

Entrepreneurship Site Visit: Social Enterprise Greenhouse, Providence

Library Research

Simulation Round 3

Internal Analysis & Nike Mini Case Exercise

Café/Investment Strategies

Simulation Round 4