Plague Sundays!

Here at Humanities for Young People (HYP), we’re pretty disappointed that we can’t gather in the traditional HYP way this year. To tide us over, we decided to create a virtual HYP so that we can all ponder and process this plague year together. So, throughout May 2021, HYP will be presenting Plague Sundays!, a bi-weekly engagement with a group of interdisciplinary artists, activists, and theorists to apply humanities expertise to all things viral. We will be tackling all kinds of plague-related issues such as plagues from the past, viruses today, how COVID is discussed in the media, and how art can help us in our isolation from one another.

Tune in on May 2nd from 4-5 p.m. (AST) for a Blast from the Past with Dr. Simon Kow and Hilary Ilkay; May 16th (likewise, 4-5 p.m. [AST]) for A Talkshow on Neo Viralism hosted by Dr. Laura Penny, featuring Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, Dr. Hamza Karam Ally, and Dr. Ryan Conrad , and finally on May 30th (4-5 p.m. [AST]) for the The Covidean Everyday with Tim Currie and Sue Goyette.

Blast from the Past

Before we discovered viruses, there were vapors. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to experience a pandemic from the past, this is the webinar for you! In Blast from the Past, Dr. Simon Kow, Director of the Early Modern Studies Program at King’s, and Hilary Ilkay, Tutor in the Foundation Year Program and beloved Faculty Fellow, will lead you through pandemics in Ancient Greece and 17th-century London and explore the superstition they spread. This event will take place at 4 p.m. (AST) on May 2nd, 2021. Come online with us and enjoy this Blast from the Past!

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Talkshow: Neo Viralism  

‘Neo-viralism’ is a cool term we bummed from French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, who uses it to show how the COVID-19 pandemic is a magnifying glass for the crises besetting neo-liberalism. We are not all in this together. In this webinar, we will discuss determinants of health, intensified xenophobia, and the impacts of COVID on marginalized communities. Laura Penny will be hosting three expert panelists: Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, James R. Johnson Chair in Black Canadian Studies in the Faculty of Medicine and Associate Professor at Dalhousie University, Dr. Hamza Karam Ally, Faculty Fellow in the Foundation Year program and Instructor in the Contemporary Studies program, and  Dr. Ryan Conrad , an activist, artist, and cultural studies scholar who specializes in film, media, and HIV/AIDS. This will be a lively and vital discussion and one you won’t want to miss! Join our webinar at 4 p.m. (AST) on May 16th to tune into this Plague Sunday talkshow.

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The Covidean Everyday

COVID is not the only plague—disinformation is also a virus. Through its media coverage, we have never before been so connected on a single issue, but we have also never been as isolated from one another. How do we understand all the information coming at us everyday? How do we know what or who to trust? And how do we navigate this paradox of being so connected and so disconnected from each other?  In The Covidean Everyday, the director of the King’s School of Journalism, Tim Currie, will be leading us through the tricky media landscape that COVID has created. And, given that one of the oldest ways that communities have coped with plagues was with songs and poetry, we are also super excited to host Halifax Poet Laureate Sue Goyette, who will be talking to us about art and expression in a time of social isolation. And who knows? Sue might even recite some lockdown poems for us… Join our webinar at 4 p.m. (AST) on May 30th to tune into our riveting final installment of Plague Sundays!

Register now

Please note

Due to current health and safety concerns, we regret that we are canceling our annual summer Humanities for Young People (HYP) program for 2020. We look forward to offering this program again in the summer of 2022.

Do you love reading? Did you just put on a play? Do you follow politics? Do you dream of being a writer? Do you ever wonder what university might be like? If so, HYP is for you.

The Humanities for Young People (HYP) is a new residential summer program for bright and highly-motivated students from ages 15 to 17. It will take place at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia from July 4–12, 2020. Secondary school students from across the country will have the unique opportunity to work closely and collaboratively with scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Student engaged in a discussion

Hear about HYP on CBC's Mainstreet

Students peek out from behind the King's sign.

Experience university life

A student and mentor high-five each other.

Work with undergraduate student mentors

Student and faculty participate in an activity in a gymnasium

Enjoy practical skills and creative arts workshops

Student and faculty enjoying a boat ride

In the evenings, explore the natural beauty, rich culture, and history of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Why do the Humanities matter today?

The Humanities ask—and answer—the big questions about our lives. Studying the Humanities will help you develop the critical thinking and communication skills that are crucial to meaningful employment, active citizenship, and healthy relationships.

Research backs us up on this: it shows that young people who pursue studies in the Humanities have a broad and flexible skill set, allowing them to confront the unpredictable future with creativity, ingenuity, and resilience.

The Humanities encourage us to examine works of art, literature, philosophy, and political science (among others!) to assist us as we try to understand and improve our world and ourselves.

“I can say with absolute confidence that this has been one of the most life-changing experiences I have yet enjoyed.”

What will I learn?

The theme for HYP 2020 is Hindsight. It’s a cliché that “Hindsight is 20/20”, but what do we really learn from considering the past? The philosopher G.W.F. Hegel wrote, “What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” Thoughtful engagement with the past is key to several humanities fields ranging from literature to philosophy to history, but claims about the past can also be contentious and complicated. Whose histories do we use to understand our present, and imagine a new future?


You’ll grapple with questions such as: What does it mean to look back? What is nostalgia, and why is it so powerful? How reliable are our cultural memories? How do claims about the past unite us—or divide us—politically? How do politicians and other public figures use and abuse accounts of the past? How do we commemorate historical events in our public spaces? How can understanding history open up new cultural and political possibilities?


You’ll engage with a wide-ranging curriculum that will take you from Ancient Greece to contemporary debates about Hindsight. You’ll read epic literature and a Shakespeare play. You’ll study philosophy about the uses and abuses of the past. You’ll consider Halifax as a historical site, and think about public commemoration and memorialization. You’ll go on an expedition to an historic island in Halifax Harbour. You’ll work with professors, journalists, authors, and artists to enrich your understanding of our relationship to the past, and how the past continues to inform and shape the present.

“The HYP lectures were awesome...”

Your professors

We have assembled a lively team of scholars, authors, artists, legal experts, and advocates who will share their expertise with you and help you wrestle with the ideas and issues that inform our understanding of migration. 

About King’s

The University of King’s College is the oldest chartered university in the country, with a long and storied tradition of scholarship and education in the Humanities, as well as a vibrant partnership with our neighours at Dalhousie University. You’ll be warmly welcomed by faculty and students alike, as we pride ourselves on a collegial and collaborative learning environment. HYP will allow you to discover some of the joys of university life: you’ll stay in residence, work with upper-year students, and meet fellow HYPsters from across the country.

“I created so many memories with so many new friends that I still keep in contact today! My HYP experience is something I will remember forever.”


HYP welcomes applications from students aged 15 to 17. Application deadline is Monday June 1st, 2020.

The HYP fee is $975.00, which includes accommodation, meals, all academic activities and materials, field trips, and evening events.

• Wednesday June 10th deadline for deposit: $300

• Wednesday June 24th deadline for balance: $675

HYP is committed to accessibility and offers bursaries on the basis of financial need. Please contact us for more information.

Applicants will need to provide:

  1. Contact information: Name, address, phone number, and email address.
  2. A short written statement (max. 250 words) on why you’re interested in the theme of Hindsight.
  3. A brief letter of recommendation from a teacher, guidance counsellor, or other adult who knows you well. The letter of recommendation should be submitted by its author.

Apply online here.

Letters of recommendation can be submitted by their author here.

Contact us

Have questions? We’re happy to help! Get in touch.