Academics, Summer Wilderness | Earlham College
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Summer Wilderness is a 3-credit, experiential, field-based course that combines wilderness travel with study, observation, and personal reflection. Readings, journal writing, skill assessments and group discussion provide the basis for academic credit, and the curriculum has three main emphases: natural and cultural history, environmental ethics, and leadership. Five core values guide the program’s educational mission:

Adventuresome spirit is viewing obstacles as challenges to be overcome. It is actively seeking out opportunities to learn and push oneself outside the “comfort zone”. It is living life in a “positive state of non-expectancy” to appreciate the magic that can come from always moving forward.

Connection to the land we travel through, such that we are not just tourists, but come to understand our relationship with the land and its stories.

Servant leadership emphasizes collaboration, trust, and empathy as means of helping a community form and achieve its objectives. Servant leaders are dedicated to being their best selves and empower others to do the same. In this leadership philosophy, we are ALL leaders — as it is possible to serve others from any position in a group.

In the 1920s, Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound, wrote: “Unless the present day generation acquires early habits of quiet and reflection, it will be speedily and prematurely used up by the nerve-exhausting and distracting civilization of today." Contemplation is what brings meaning to our lives. It is also fundamental to the critical thinking we value at Earlham.

According to the Quaker principle: “a life guided by the testimony of simplicity can lead us to recognize what makes us genuinely happy and to be good stewards of personal, community, and global resources”. Living simply enables us to discern what is really necessary for the well-being of ourselves, others, and the world.

Core Curriculum

The areas we travel through are unique classrooms for natural history observation and interpretation. Students will learn to identify key species of the local biological communities while being introduced to big picture ecological and geological processes, such as fire adaptation and glaciation. The cultural history of the area will also be explored, with a particular emphasis on changing patterns of land use.

Students will grapple with global issues surrounding sustainability and climate change, critically assessing human impact on both individual and societal scales. The course will explore contemporary land management, resource use and conservation efforts in the context of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Participants will learn Leave No Trace principles in the backcountry and will be given opportunity to reflect on how we might transfer this knowledge to minimize impact in our “frontcountry” lives.

Living in an intentional community, students will learn critical leadership skills, including effective communication, conflict resolution strategies, problem solving/decision-making, and developing self awareness. Students will explore their own distinctive leadership styles through "leader of the day" responsibilities and structured reflection activities.

Double Rainbow

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.