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The Thaden Difference


Intensives are one- or two-week periods of study in which students replace their regular weekly schedule to participate in one course that meets all day, every day. This allows students to engage in educational experiences that are not always easily facilitated during our typical 60- and 90-minute class periods. Intensives also allow for the development of creative interdisciplinary course offerings that are complementary to but distinct from Thaden’s core curriculum. Intensives leverage the special interests and expertise of our nationally recruited faculty by giving them considerable discretion in the design of their courses. Intensive course offerings represent our faculty’s passion, creativity, and interdisciplinarity. Similarly, throughout Intensives teachers use a wide range of pedagogical methods – from seminar-style discussions to hands-on activities – that collectively enhance students’ versatility as problem solvers who can work creatively and collaboratively in a rapidly changing world. 

One Intensive from 2023, titled "Inside Intensives" allowed students to take on the role of a professional documentary filmmaker, working in groups to make multiple mini-documentaries about the Thaden Intensive Experience. To see some of the students' work check out our Inside Intensives Youtube Playlist.

Community-Based Learning

Community-Based Learning (CBL) courses give students opportunities to work with local organizations on “real world” issues in Northwest Arkansas. They also allows students the opportunity to explore classes that align with their interests, and form and investigate their own questions. Some of the CBL classes offered include: Design Thinking, Service to Humanity, and Climate Advocacy.

Senior Thesis

Senior theses are an opportunity to pursue original research in partnership with faculty mentors. Students may develop their projects from ideas sparked by past courses or pursue topics of long-standing personal interest. Previous senior thesis topics have included: Tyson’s impact on Northwest Arkansas waterways; representations of femininity and masculinity in utopian novels; the promises and pitfalls of the North American Free Trade Alliance; and the displacement of the Marshallese following the United States’ testing of nuclear weapons on their home islands in the Pacific. Some of the scholarship produced by our seniors has even become part of our curriculum.