The Tahoe Semester was founded in 2020, but its roots go back nearly 20 years to Azusa Pacific University’s High Sierra Program. The High Sierra Program was started in 2001 in Bass Lake, CA (about 20 minutes south of Yosemite National Park) with the goal of providing students a living/learning semester during which they could become better scholars by reading and discussing core texts while focusing on intentional Christian community and experiencing the wonder of Sierra through a range of outdoor activities. From sauntering and enjoying the solitude afforded by the forests of the Sierra to acquiring new skills through backpacking, climbing, mountain biking and kayaking, hundreds of APU students learned how to travel together as the Body of Christ through amazing swaths of God’s creation while becoming better thinkers and creating friendships that would last a lifetime.
When it came time for the High Sierra program to relocate in 2019, Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center proved to be the ideal home and partner in forming the Tahoe Semester. Zephyr Point had, over the years, employed numerous High Sierra students on summer staff and long standing connections existed between the leadership of High Sierra and Zephyr. Being located directly on Lake Tahoe will continue the High Sierra tradition for a new generation of students who wish to practice Christian community, and read books deeply and adventure in the Sierra together.
The Tahoe Semester is preserving the basic ethos of the High Sierra Program, but extending it new directions. The aim of the Tahoe Semester is to continue High Sierra’s excellence in humanities education, but connect studies in the humanities with the sciences. Disease prevention, genetic engineering, energy efficiency and food production are but a few of the most pressing issues impacting humanity. These issues involve not only complex scientific problems, but philosophical, theological and historical ones as well. Meeting these challenges requires robust dialogue between the sciences and the humanities and it is the intent of the Tahoe Semester to engage crucial topics through the lens of both the sciences and the humanities.