Coles Secures Funding for Summer Programs

This summer, Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities Robert Coles '50 will bring stories of social reflection to the undergraduates staffing summer programs for Phillips Brooks House (PBH), as part of a University-funded program.

Beginning the week of July 10, Coles and his seven assistants will conduct weekly, two-hour discussion sessions with the undergraduate staff members at each of more than a dozen programs, with each assistant leading one or more groups. The discussions will last at least six weeks, according to Assistant Director of PBH Kenneth G. Smith.

The summer programs, located at sites throughout Boston and Cambridge, employ about 85 undergraduates, mostly from Harvard.

The discussions are an attempt to introduce reflection into the often hectic summer programs, according to Coles. The books, by authors such as Raymond Carver and Tillie Olsen, will serve as a jumping-off point for discussing the students' public service experiences.

"This is an effort to connect the service action of the student to a reflective component," Coles said recently in an interview. "We also do some reading which we hope will help them put in context some of the experiences they go through, some of them not always easy."


The sessions are not formal classes, Coles said.

"Obviously we're not emphasizing the reading matter," Coles said. "We're not grading people."

For the past two years, Coles has conducted similar sessions by himself at the PBH summer programs. Due to a $25,000 grant from a foundation contacted by President Neil L. Rudenstine, Coles can afford to hire more discussion leaders this year, he said.

"This is the first year we've got a larger effort with enough manpower to really reach out to all [the] activities," Coles said. "[Rudenstine] has very graciously agreed to help turn this into a larger effort."

Last fall, Coles asked Rudenstine for University backing for a project to increase professors' participation in PBH summer programs. Although Rudenstine at first refused to com- ment on Coles' proposal, he said later that hesupported the program.

The president emphasized, however, that hissupport does not extend into the term-timecurriculum, which he said is the domain of theFaculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). FAS membershave said it would be difficult to convinceprofessors to contribute term time to studentpublic service projects.

The summer sessions will be similar to the"service sections" of Coles' class "GeneralEducation 105: The Literature of SocialReflection," where students interested in publicservice relate their community work to the class'required reading, said Smith, who is helping tocoordinate the program.

Students involved in the programs said theywere looking forward to integrating contemplationand hard work.

"The summer programs are very hectic," saidGene Koo '97, director of the Chinatown AdventureSummer Program. "It's good to stop and think aboutsome of the work you're doing with the communityand with the people there."

Another student said Coles' program will givehim a much-needed pause.

"Sometimes it's difficult to take a look back,"said Young W. Kim '97, coordinator for the BostonRefugee Youth Enrichment (BRYE) summer program."You always have to think about tomorrow, what youlesson plan will be."

As of a week ago, the PBH summer programs didnot have all of the money they needed for thissummer. Sources inside the Phillips Brooks HouseAssociation (PBHA) said the president's office,the dean of the College's office and the BusinessSchool would likely donate enough money for theprograms to stay afloat this summer.

The summer activities include more than a dozenprograms throughout Cambridge and Boston,including the Inner City Outreach Program, BRYE,Keylatch, South Boston Summer Program, MissionHill, Academy Homes, Chinatown Adventure, NativeAmerican Youth Enrichment Program, Cambridge YouthEnrichment Program, Summer Science program, SummerHomeless program, Dearborn Enrichment Program andRefugee Youth Enrichment Program, according toSmith