By expanding its offerings in the sciences, the Yale Young Global Scholars Program will give twice as many high school students the chance to live and learn at Yale next summer.
The program — an intensive two-week summer initiative for rising high school seniors — will hold six sessions in 2016, twice as many as were offered this summer. But while only one of three sessions this year was science-oriented, four of the six sessions next year will focus on science, technology, engineering and math fields. This year’s single STEM session will be split into four, centering on topics including engineering, biomedical science, sustainability and entrepreneurship. The two remaining sessions will remain the program’s trademark social science offerings: “Politics, Law and Economics” and “International Affairs and Security.”
“We’re not just expanding the program by doubling the size of each session,” YYGS Director Ted Wittenstein ’04 said. “We’re doing it in ways that bring in new types of academic content, new faculty, new Yale students and high school students interested in a wide range of subjects.”
Program organizers and STEM students at Yale said the program’s expansion may help dispel negative perceptions of the quality of STEM programs at Yale, a school that has traditionally been renowned for the strength of its humanities programs.
YYGS Deputy Director Erin Schutte ’12 said the additional sessions are, in many ways, a response to heightened interest in STEM-related subjects not only from high school students but also from Yale administrators.
“With the University’s interest in developing STEM across the college, it’s advantageous for us to move in this direction,” she said.
To help organize the program’s new emphasis on STEM, YYGS hired a new STEM project manager, Michael Honsberger. Honsberger said one of his main responsibilities is to design a curriculum that will show STEM-focused students what Yale has to offer.
Former YYGS student and instructor Tyler Dohrn ’18 said it is well known that Yale wants to attract more STEM students to Yale, adding that he thinks having STEM-focused programs at YYGS will likely help the University in that regard.
Seven of nine students interviewed said they supported the addition of STEM-related sessions to YYGS, and all four STEM majors interviewed said they would have been interested in attending these sessions while in high school.
Wen Yi Low ’16, a STEM student, said the new sessions will familiarize prospective Yale students with the University’s STEM offerings, debunking unfairly negative assumptions about course offerings in the disciplines. Still, Julian Adler ’18, who has been both a student and instructor at YYGS, said the success of the program would largely be based on of the quality of its faculty.
“What made the original sessions so great is they basically have the greatest professors in the world — Akhil Amar, John Gaddis — intimately involved with the program,” Adler said. “So if they’re able to reach out to Yale faculty and get the right people, it will be a smash hit.”
Schutte said her team is in the process of reaching out to faculty in the School of Medicine, School of Public Health, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and departments such as Chemistry, Engineering and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.
But not everyone agreed that Yale needs to better market its STEM offerings.
“Yale has resources for STEM all over the place, so I don’t think it’s something that really needs more focus,” James Lee ’16 said.
This is the second time YYGS has expanded in the past three years. This year, 1,200 students will attend the program, as compared to 300 in the summer of 2013 and 600 last summer.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that 12,000 students will attend YYGS this summer. Rather, 1,200 students will take part in the program.