In 2016, the largest gift in Longwood’s history created the Brock Experiences, a growing group of immersive, citizenship-focused courses at sites around the United States. Exploring the important issues of our time, new courses will be announced each fall and, after a development period, will be added to the slate of signature experiences available to students.

Being Human: Genetics and Society
What does it mean to be human in the 21st century?

San Francisco

All humans share the same set of genes, but the ones in your genome are a once in a lifetime collection, unique in all of history. The nature of our genes, their contribution to who we are as individual people, as a culture, and as a species leads to many unanswerable questions.

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • How do the same genes produce different people?
  • What role does the society play in regulating whose genes are passed to the next generation?
  • What limits restrict the changes and manipulations of a person’s human DNA?

In this course, students will develop knowledge of gene structures and the expression of genetic information as heritable traits. To build context for how society has responded to human genetic knowledge, students will investigate the misapplication of genetics through historic eugenic programs, discuss the personal and societal impact of genetic disorders, and investigate a future where gene augmentation for therapeutic and artistic goals is possible. We will consider the technological challenges, ethical conundrums, and personal dilemma that are associated with the risks and benefits of CRISPR-based gene therapy. Throughout, we will probe how the perception and function of our genetics defines us as a human, regardless of ability or disability.

The San Francisco Bay Area of California is the ideal location for an exploration of human genetics. In cities surrounding the bay, research institutions with world-leading human genetics and bioethics programs are dissecting the human genome and inventing medical tools for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Students will interact with stakeholders from a variety of different disciplines to develop an inquiry-based perspective of the historical, social, and ethical landscape of human genetics, and the medical industry that has spawned around it.

Request More Information Apply Now


Who comes to the U.S., and why do they make the journey?


There is perhaps no more hotly contested issue in the United States today than immigration—who crosses our borders, and why do they make the journey to a foreign country to settle? How do they get here, and what challenges do they face once on American soil? Students studying in Arizona and Richmond experience will meet firsthand immigrant families, employers, and border security officers. Students will explore the extraordinarily complex issue of immigration alongside a team of scholars as they journey from the familiar—Richmond, Va.—to the unfamiliar—Tucson, Ariz.

Request More Information Apply Now

Stewardship of Resources
Who should profit from the resources in the 49th state?


As the largest state in the United States, Alaska boasts some of the nation’s richest and most diverse natural and cultural resources. Land and water rights, however, have been long debated in the land of the mid-night sun. Alaska has more national parks and public lands than any other states. The majority of U.S. crab, halibut and salmon come from Alaskan waters. Many precious and semi-precious gemstones are mined in Alaska. An estimated 30% of the nation’s known oil and natural gas resources are found off the coast of Alaska contributing 90 percent of state’s revenue. Unique landscapes and fascinating cultural history makes tourism a 1.3 billion dollar industry with nearly two million visitors a year. Students studying in the Longwood in Alaska course explore firsthand the social and cultural debates over land rights through multiple viewpoints and actively evaluate data related to these debates. Students will consider how citizens can serve as best stewards of our nation’s natural resources – including oil and natural gas, minerals and gemstones, forestry and fish, and even tourist destinations.

Request More Information Apply Now

Stewardship of Public Lands
How do we best manage our diverse natural landscape?

Yellowstone National Park

Begun in 2006, Yellowstone National Park has served as an unforgettable part of hundreds of students’ Longwood education. An intense, 2-week journey through Wyoming and Montana in the country’s most famous national park opens students’ eyes to the myriad of stewardship-related questions facing our society today that cannot be solved without bringing together different perspectives, from various academic disciplines to field practitioners, community members, and business leaders. As they gaze out at majestic mountains and lakes, students ponder what our responsibility as a country is to protect our precious natural resources while recognizing their value in driving commerce for thousands of communities near the park.

Request More Information Apply Now

Chesapeake Bay Stewardship
What’s a citizen’s responsibility to the environment?

Chesapeake Bay

Building on a slate of programs and research projects already in place at Longwood’s Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County, the Chesapeake Bay experience offers students a unique perspective into the complex issues surrounding North America’s largest estuary system. At once a source of income for oystermen and fishermen, a rich historical landscape, and a polluted natural resource in need of cleanup, the Bay is the source of ongoing debate from a number of disciplines, including science, economics, public policy, and sociology. Students will use the Bay issues investigated as models for understanding how to critically evaluate and formulate solutions to contentious public issues in their local communities.

Request More Information Apply Now

Water Access
Whose water is it, and how should it be used?

Colorado River

Students in this course will travel across the Southwest United States, using photography and writing as means of studying the Colorado River, a critically important source of drinking water, hydroelectric power, agricultural irrigation, recreation and economic development to more than 35 million people in the region and beyond. Spanning 12 days and more than 1,600 miles across Colorado, Utah, Arizona and California, the course will give students the opportunity to meet with multiple stakeholders throughout the upper and lower Colorado River basin to consider the challenges of climate change, population growth and expanded economic development while addressing the questions: Where does the water go? What does it earn and cost? And how can the system be sustained? At the conclusion of this course, students will be better-equipped to address how we, as citizens, work to address complex civic issues.

Request More Information

The Future of Puerto Rico
Should the territory become the 51st state?

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, a territory of the USA, is neither a nation nor a state. Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States—they pay taxes, participate in Medicare, and are subject to federal law. Yet, they have no voting representation in Congress and do not vote in presidential elections. For this reason, many cite Puerto Rico as an example of “taxation without representation.” Plagued by high debt levels, massive unemployment, and the devastation from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is facing profound economic woes. This begs the question of what is the USA’s responsibility to its territories, and should Puerto Rico, a place that is culturally very different from the mainland, be considered for statehood? Students will travel to Puerto Rico to experience life on the island, interact with locals in meaningful ways, and immerse in the culture so that they may form their own opinions about the best path for this US territory.

More Information

Art & Culture
How do the arts bring a community together, and who funds them?


The Longwood University Brock Experience in Boston engages students in an exploration of the role the arts play in society and culture in an academic program based in Boston, Massachusetts.  Students in this program will interact with stakeholders in both the public and private sectors in an effort to understand how the arts and humanities improve communities, and how they can enhance individuals’ understanding of their own roles as active participants in citizenship, and, indeed, in the greater concerns of our shared humanity. 

Request More Information


Contact Josh Blakely, Director of Brock Experiences for Transformational Learning, at (434) 395-2691 or