for the 8th Annual Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

Student Retreat on Catalina Island

March 8-10, 2024 



 "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."  ~ Søren Kierkegaard

"One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike—and yet is the most precious thing we have."  ~ Albert Einstein

"I'm half living my live between fantasy and reality at all times."  ~ Lady Gaga

The USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study invites you to apply to the Spring 2024 Catalina Student Retreat for this year’s topic “Reality's Kaleidoscope.” On the island, students will focus on theories and perspectives surrounding personal reality as well as that which we share with mankind. This retreat is intended to prompt questions and discussion about what reality will look like in the future, how we interact with realities of the present, and how we interpret realities of the past. You’ll have a chance to discuss and interrogate this topic through multiple modes of inquiry via structured daytime and evening panels featuring prominent USC faculty members. We’ll also have plenty of downtime for you to explore the island, through activities such as kayaking, hiking, and games.

The retreat will be taking place from Friday, March 8th, to Sunday, March 10. Please note that this is the first weekend of Spring Break.  


The Harman Academy offers a variety of programming that encourages an integrative approach to problem-solving that draws from across the disciplines. The annual Student Retreat lets students take the lead in identifying a topic for discussion and in formulating a weekend retreat at USC’s Catalina facilities. In spring 2016, twenty-five students grappled with a variety of issues under the rubric, “Narratives and Environments;” the 2017 retreat explored ideas around “Generating the Future;” the 2018 retreat approached “Perception” as a polymathic concept, and our last retreat interrogated “Entropy and Stability” as the framework for inquiry.  

At these retreats, students and more than a dozen faculty discussed and interrogated multiple modes of inquiry through structured daytime and evening sessions, outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, and games, and late-night continuing vibrant discussions.  All events are free for USC students.

For more information about the Harman Academy for Polymathic Study, please visit our website at:

To apply, click here