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Creative Inquiry and Mountaintop Initiative

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Mountainshop Initiative

The Mountaintop Summer Experience, which began in 2013, gathers teams of students and faculty who are working on open-ended research projects. Learning takes place by doing and faculty are there to guide, not to lecture or give exams on what is accomplished. All projects have goals of making an impact in a field or with a community of practice. Most projects continue during the academic year and have multi-year time horizons, but students who participate even for a single summer will come away with new skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios of accomplishment. The home base of the Mountaintop summer program is newly-renovated Building C on Lehigh’s Mountaintop campus, a beautiful and inspiring setting for brainstorming, striving, and achieving goals. 

Interdisciplinary Deep Dives

Mountaintop projects are interdisciplinary deep dives where faculty, students, and external partners come together and take new intellectual, creative, and/or artistic pathways that lead to transformative new innovations, new expressions, and new questions. We expect students to take radical ownership in their projects, and envision faculty mentors as partners and co-creators striving to propel their projects forward on the journey towards tangible, sustainable impact: impact which builds the skillsets, mindsets, and portfolios of pioneers and change-makers in a rapidly changing world.


The 2020 Mountaintop Summer Experience runs from June 1st to August 7th. The program lasts 10 weeks.


Students selected as Mountaintop Fellows receive a stipend for the summer. In 2020, that stipend is $4,000 for undergraduate students and $5,500 for graduate students. Fellows receive a daily lunch pass and are expected to not take summer courses or have external employment during the program. Mountaintop Associates receive a daily lunch pass and will be full-fledged members of the Mountaintop community. Associates are expected to spend approximately 10 hours/week on their projects, and are able to take summer classes and/or have external or travel obligations. Associates do not receive a stipend.


Please note that at this time, participation in the Mountaintop program is open only to current Lehigh University students, with the following exceptions: 1) students from institutions with which Lehigh has a formal partnership or MOU; 2) students from other Lehigh Valley colleges invited to work on projects who do not need Lehigh housing; or 3) students participating in an REU experience related to a specific project who are doing their research work at Lehigh over the summer.

Project proposals are due in mid-December, and proposals must be submitted by faculty although students can generate their own ideas. Selected projects are announced to campus in February, and students apply to the program indicating their first and second choice projects, and whether they are applying as Fellows or Associates. Faculty mentors for each project have the final determination of students selected to their teams. All projects continue into the academic year through the Creative Inquiry courses, and students selected for Mountaintop in the summer will be expected to enroll in the CINQ 389 course in the fall semester to continue working on their project.


Office of Creative Inquiry,  Also can contact Bill Whitney, Administrative Director, at or (610) 758-4548.