The Lab for Teen Thinkers is a public humanities program that prepares rising juniors and seniors for future academic and professional success through civic development, mentoring, and internship opportunities. Participants have access to Bard Graduate Center’s research institute, study collection, and library with over 55,000 volumes. The program offers a behind-the-scenes look at how New York City museums function and gives teens the unique opportunity to study objects and artifacts with a variety of scholars, curators, and PhD students working in the fields of material culture, decorative arts, and design history. Participants conduct independent research and create dynamic digital projects with the support of our Digital Media Lab. Teen Thinkers contribute their research and scholarship with the larger academic community at Bard Graduate Center, influencing how others might learn and think about material culture.

2021 Program Dates
Tuesday, July 5–Thursday, July 29
The fall/winter commitment to be determined but will work around school schedules.

Rising high school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply.


Apply now!
Applications are be due April 8, 2021. Notification will be sent on April 30, 2021.
Teen Projects

Over the past thirty years, many scholars, students, and interested New Yorkers have worked to figuratively and literally unearth the history of Seneca Village and the experiences of its residents from archives and artifacts. This year’s Teen Thinkers built upon that research and created a digital exhibition to share their discoveries with you. Learn more.


Teen Thinkers conducted independent research projects on the theme Design, Space, and the Everyday. Their research was informed by interviews in the field with Miko McGinty of Miko Books; Anita Perr of The NYU Ability Project; Mabel O. Wilson of The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University; and Alida Jekabson of The Museum of Art and Design. Learn more.
What The Teens Say
“The skills that I have learned at BGC Lab for Teen Thinkers can definitely be applied to almost every single class I will take in the future because of the researching and presenting strategies that I have been taught. I know now how to do intense research, cite correctly, write scholarly papers, create dynamic presentations, etc. These are all skills that will come in handy one way or another in my future classes and just about whatever else the future brings me in general.”

“In a way it changed my entire perspective of museums. When I walk into a museum, I try to envision myself as a curator and try to dissect the layout of the exhibit. I also learned to enter a museum and become a critic, as I try to find the deeper meaning. As for material culture, I cannot help myself, I now question everything I come in contact with. The program has helped me see the power of objects.”

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When does The Lab for Teen Thinkers take place?

The Lab for Teen Thinkers is a two-part program. The summer intensive occurs during the month of July, Mondays through Thursday, from 9:30am–2:30pm. The fall/winter (October-February) commitment to be determined but will work around school schedules.

Where does The Lab for Teen Thinkers take place?

At Bard Graduate Center’s research institute located at 38 West 86th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. During the time of Covid-19 the program is meeting on Zoom.

Who is eligible to apply?

Rising high school juniors and seniors.

Is this a paid opportunity?

Yes! Upon successful completion of the summer program, students receive a generous stipend and a second stipend upon completion of the fall/winter program February.

What is the application process like?

It consists of a general form and we ask that you attach a piece of writing you are proud of. This might be an academic piece of writing, a creative piece, or an op-ed.

I don’t know anything about material culture, design history, or the decorative arts, can I still apply?

Yes, no prior experience is necessary.

How will I know when the application process is open?

Check back here in February.

What happens once the program is over?

Alumni are invited to apply for paid internships at Bard Graduate Center and our institutional partners.