Telluride Association

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The Telluride Association is a non-profit organization in the United States that provides young people with free educational programs emphasizing intellectual curiosity, democratic self-governance, and social responsibility. Students are invited to apply based on academic criteria, such as high standardized test scores; however, anyone can apply without nomination. The association was named in 1910 by it founder Lucien Lucius Nunn for his city of residence, Telluride, Colorado.

The Association's principal programs are summer seminars for high school students, called TASSes and TASPs, and scholarship houses, called Telluride Houses, for college students. These residential programs are offered at no cost to the students, who are encouraged to use the benefit of their extraordinary education for service to society. The Association is run largely by those elected to membership from its recent alumni, Deep Springs College alumni, and current Branch students.


Lucien Lucius Nunn founded the Association in 1911 after building the first Telluride House at Cornell University in 1910. The first President of the Telluride Association was Charles Doolittle Walcott, the famous paleontologist and fourth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The house originally provided room and board for young men who had worked for Nunn and were studying engineering at Cornell. It has since expanded to encompass a variety of summer programs, scholarships, and additional houses, all coeducational. The association is named after the town of Telluride, Colorado, where Nunn resided for much of his adult life.


Telluride Association seeks out young people with the desire and the ability to contribute to society, and helps them develop intellectually and as community members. Telluride Association promotes no particular political or religious viewpoint.

Telluride Houses[edit]

Telluride Houses, or Branches, have operated at Cornell University since 1911 and at the University of Michigan since 1999. Each house is populated by a diverse group of graduate students and undergraduates who share an interest in self-governance and intellectual community. Students participate in a year-round public speaking program and plan academic seminars. The houses are largely self-governed, with somewhat different focuses: residents of Cornell Branch take on such responsibilities as hiring employees and maintaining and renovating the house, while residents of Michigan Branch plan and execute an annual project linking practical work in the community with theoretical and academic inquiry. Distinguished alumni include Steven Weinberg, Eve Sedgwick, Francis Fukuyama, Paul Wolfowitz, Jan Svejnar, Dominick LaCapra, William vanden Heuvel and Gayatri Spivak. A handful of faculty also live at the houses for limited terms. Distinguished faculty guests have included Michel Foucault, Richard Feynman, Frances Perkins, Linus Pauling, and Allan Bloom.[1]

Telluride Houses formerly existed in Pasadena, California, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago.

Telluride Association Summer Program[edit]

Telluride Association Summer Programs (TASPs) are six-week educational experiences for rising high school seniors offering intellectual challenges rarely found in secondary school or even in college. They are designed to bring together young people from around the world who share a passion for learning. The participants, or TASPers, attend an intensive seminar led by college and university faculty members and participate in many educational and social activities outside the classroom. Like the houses, each TASP receives a discretionary budget, whose use is democratically distributed via weekly house meetings.

Telluride Association Sophomore Seminars[edit]

Telluride Association Sophomore Seminars (TASSes) are also six-week summer programs. TASSes, which are offered to high school sophomores, have an academic focus on African American studies and related fields. Their basic structure is similar to that of the TASPs, and some TASS alumni choose to attend a TASP the following summer. TASSes have been held at Indiana University since 1993 and at the University of Michigan since 2002.


Telluride Association Awards are awarded to members of the Telluride community by the Association.

The Mansfield-Wefald Senior Thesis Prize is awarded annually for the best scholarly thesis written by a Telluride associate who will have completed his or her final year of undergraduate education that year.

The Mike Yarrow Adventurous Education Award is given annually to a returning member of a Branch of Telluride Association, or a Deep Springs student who will be entering a Branch the following year. The award funds non-paying public service activity during the summer that is outside of an academic institution.

The Nunn Archive Fellowship is awarded to help associates study and preserve the legacy of Lucien Lucius Nunn.

Beginning in the late 1950s, the Telluride House at Cornell operated a two-year postgraduate exchange scholarship program with Lincoln College of Oxford University, welcoming a Sidgwick Scholar to stay at Telluride House and to study at Cornell, usually for a master's degree, and sending a Housemember to study for an Oxford M.Phil. while resident at Lincoln College. Despite efforts of both sides, the program was ended in 2002.

The Reese Miller Exchange Scholarship is available to students at Cornell University, University of Michigan, Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The scholarship operates as an exchange for one semester or one year between recent undergraduates and graduate students at Cornell and CEU and between students at University of Michigan and UCT.


Telluride Association consists of about 100 volunteer members who serve as the Association's trustees. Members are elected to membership, usually while in their twenties, on the basis of demonstrated leadership and commitment to Telluride's educational goals. The Association’s membership is mainly current and former participants of its programs and alumni of Deep Springs College, a separate two-year college founded by Nunn in 1917.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About > History", Telluride Association

External links[edit]