Bridge Year Alum Peter Schmidt ’20 Helped Launch a School to Cultivate Attention

Nov. 3, 2023

After graduating from high school in 2015, Peter Schmidt ’20 spent nine months volunteering in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, with Princeton’s Novogratz Bridge Year Program. Students in the program were encouraged not to bring their smartphones with them, so Schmidt had only a basic cell phone and no Internet access in the house where he lived.

“It was the most intellectually stimulating year of my life,” says Schmidt, who lives in New York. “I wonder if that has to do with the fact that I wasn’t looking at screens all year. Screens bring a great deal into our life, and they also take a great deal out of it.”

As the program director at the Strother School of Radical Attention, Schmidt is helping participants consider the tradeoffs of engaging in the attention economy, in which users of smartphones and similar devices have their attention diverted and extracted by social media companies for their own profit. And, he says, the project “is fundamentally connected to the liberal arts tradition, which is all about the cultivation of different kinds of attention.”

Read the full article on the Princeton Alumni Weekly website.