Summer Session in West Virginia

June 3 – 23, 2018Hillsboro, WV


Desire and Design: Construct Your Humanism

The School for Designing a Society and Patch Adams MD invite you to construct your humanism! Join us for three weeks in West Virginia where we'll offer starting concepts, experiential exercises, community living, creative projects, humanitarian clowning, wide-ranging discussions. In these activities we'll explore humanism as a counter to the de-humanism we find in our current society. How can we counteract the social structures—legal, non-legal, formal, informal---that treat people as something other than people?

The three-week session explores this question by asking ourselves to imagine and formulate our desires. If another world is possible, what is the world you envision? How would you like things to be different, and what would be necessary to bring that about? We'll take the title as an invitation: "Construct your humanism!"  Each participant will be assisted to create designs, strategies, and anticipatory structures to support, protect and embody your humanism, your vision---an 'action plan'. 

What will we do? Who will we be? 

Participants will spend the session in a cooperative living and learning environment. We'll create a community where we'll will dine and clean together, learn and teach with each other, play with one another and with the greater community as clowns, performers, composers, listeners. At the same time, we will be expanding our knowledge of a number of important topics not typically emphasized in school curricula. 

The program is open to all members of the caring fields—health care, education, governance, parenting, social service, social justice, environmental protection, public arts—and anyone who is interested.


Five days a week, after breakfast and daily cleaning of the common areas, we meet for a morning session where where topics, concepts, exercises, games, and "no-failure art lubes" will be offered as part of building our community and exploring our visions. Then after lunch and rest meet in the afternoons for workshops in movement, clowning, projects, practice. An extraordinary emphasis will be given to play, as we consider 'play' the vision and practice of belonging. In evenings after dinner there will be opportunities to attend and offer programs of general interest--movie, dance, guest presentation, bonfire...

Community Excursions

An integral part of School for Designing a Society summer sessions is interacting with surrounding communities. We offer participants opportunities to practice humanitarian clowning and socially engaged performance in nearby nursing homes, veterans hospitals, schools, streets, and performance venues.

In the last few years we have developed a relation with Davis-Stuart School, a residential treatment facility serving youth ages 12-18 that are in West Virginia state’s custody. In 2015 we were invited by the director to clown in classrooms, counseling offices, residential common rooms, and the spacious grounds. In 2017, after one clowning visit, we proposed to the programming director that we return the following week with a special interactive performance that took place under decorated umbrellas creating "cones of intimacy" in their amphitheater. The visits to Davis-Stuart offer a mutually beneficial experiences for their youth and staff as well as the participants in the School for Designing a Society.


How do I apply?

Space is limited, so we suggest you submit your application as soon as possible to guarantee your spot.

  1. First, fill out the application form. You will be contacted for a phone or video interview so we can learn about your interest and answer your questions about the program. Apply Now >
  2. After the interview and upon acceptance please pay for the non-refundable deposit or full tuition amount below. 


$1200 tuition. Includes room, board, and transportation pick up and drop off. Some partial scholarships available.

The School for Designing a Society does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Payment Options



Please Contact Us with Questions & Concerns


General Information

Facilities: Gesundheit! consists of a 300-acre pristine tract of farm and mountain land in rural West Virginia, with gardens, a multi-story workshop, mountain hiking trails, creeks, a lake, and clean air and water. The dacha, with its onion domes and Russian architecture, serves as a residence and meeting place, and has won awards for its unique design.

Travel: Please meet us in West Virginia and arrive by the evening of Sunday, July 1. You can plan to leave Gesundheit on Sunday, July 22 by the afternoon. We will only be providing breakfast on that day.