Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah Kicks Off EXCEL in Writing, Thinking and Inquiry at NYU Academy

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Pictured l. to r. Cheryl Ching, The Teagle Foundation, Donna Heiland, The Teagle Foundation, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Ph.D., Princeton University and Richard Buery, President and CEO, The Children’s Aid Society

Diogenes, Alexander the Great, the Cynics, and the perils of world government.  These are not common discussion topics for New York City high schools students.Yet on Thursday, December 3rd, these were the subjects of a lecture given by philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Laurence S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy at Princeton to a group of 40 high school students from Children’s Aid’s EXCEL College Prep program.  Dr. Appiah was one of my professors in college, and it was a thrill to have the opportunity to welcome him to Children’s Aid!

The lecture was the kick-off event for the EXCEL in Writing, Thinking and Inquiry at NYU Academy, a brand new collaboration between The Children’s Aid Society and New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development.  The collaboration is funded by The Teagle Foundation via its College-Community Partnership grant program with additional support from The Squire Family Foundation.

EXCEL at NYU is an interdisciplinary, interactive college preparatory program based on academically rigorous training in philosophy and writing. The program will prepare CAS EXCEL high school juniors for competitive intellectual achievement, and will assist them in every phase of the college application, including the personal essay.

Richard Buery, speaks with teen members of the EXCEL at NYU Academy at the kick-off reception.

Beginning with after school and weekend sessions during the academy year, the program culminates in a 4-week Summer Seminar on the NYU campus where students will participate in lively, intensive training sessions in philosophic inquiry, critical thinking and expository writing. Dr. Appiah’s book, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, will be the central text of the summer course. A technology-based logic game, created by Professor David Velleman, will also be used during the summer program. The program also features Uptown/Downtown cultural exchanges, NYU student-Bronx HS student interactions, interactive technology, cultural events, tutoring and evaluation.

If the kickoff event was any indication, the EXCEL Academy students are in for a wonderful year.  The students were very engaged by the presentation.  Dr. Appiah never spoke down to the students; instead, he challenged them with difficult language and concepts. The evening was a testament to the intellectual curiosity and unlimited potential of our young people.

Richard R. Buery, Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Children’s Aid Society