Students enrolled in the Humanities Program must participate in the pre-orientation program Sapere Aude ("dare to know") and study trips throughout the year.

The pre-orientation retreat and the study trips are fully paid; students have no costs beyond modest spending money. Faculty, librarians and fellows in the course lead the study trips.

Sapere Aude

The required pre-orientation program Sapere Aude is three days of community building and close reading and discussion of a few key texts with Humanities faculty, librarians and fellows. It's a great way to start your Davidson College experience with your Humes cohort and the Humanities Fellows before others get to campus. You get to know all eight faculty members who teach you throughout the year.

The retreat takes place Aug. 15-18 at a retreat center in beautiful, cool Black Mountain, N.C. Following Sapere Aude, students can participate in the STRIDE program, the international student orientation, Bonner orientation or in their athletics team's pre-season activities that begin on-campus Sunday, Aug. 18.

Students not participating in one of those pre-orientations are required to take part in a short Service Odyssey for Humanities students only in Charlotte and return to campus on Wednesday, August 21.

Service Odyssey involves an on-the-ground introduction to Charlotte and the history of the New South, with a focus on Charlotte's race-based structures; a day of service at various Charlotte non-profit social service organizations; and meetings with local leaders about NGOs, philanthropy or community action. Humanities Fellows design and lead the program. Everyone stays off campus at a camp located on an island in the Catawba River near Charlotte.

Sapere Aude and Outdoor Odyssey? Yes! Students signing up for the Humanities Program who are interested in participating in the Outdoor Odyssey must choose either Session 1 (Jul. 23-27) or Session 2 (Aug. 3-7). For those in Session 2 staying in Davidson and thus needing housing until August 14, we have a few free guest rooms available among faculty and staff in town. Email Scott Denham at Outdoor Odyssey offers robust financial aid and travel stipends.

All Humanities students and fellows must arrive early and check in to their rooms either on:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 14 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. OR
  • Thursday, Aug. 15 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. 

These are the only move-in hours available.

Students may sleep in their rooms on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Students store their things in their rooms and will take only a small bag for the pre-orientation. Students have access to their rooms when they return to campus from pre-orientation.

The buses to Black Mountain, N.C. for the Sapere Aude pre-orientation retreat will begin loading at 2:30 p.m. and leave campus on Thursday, Aug.15 at 3 p.m. sharp from the Baker parking lot and return Sunday morning Aug. 18 around 11 a.m. 

All students in the Humanities course must participate in these study trips during fall break in October and in January before the start of spring semester. Faculty, librarians and fellows design and lead these trips.

Washington D.C.

Students travel to Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 12 through Tuesday, October 15 to view portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, the Rothko color field paintings in the Phillips Collection, visit several museums of the Smithsonian Institution and engage with various memorials on the National Mall.

The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Alabama

Students travel to Montgomery Thursday, January 9 through Saturday, January 11 to visit the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice and meet with EJI staff members for seminars and discussions.