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15 Faculty, 6 Canoes, 1 Wilderness

Published: July 31, 2017

15 Faculty, 6 Canoes, 1 Wilderness

A four-day canoe trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was a highlight of the 2017 SAIL faculty seminar.

What is the meaning of "wilderness"? What places do wilderness, the wild, and nature have in our communities and campuses today?

Those were among the questions that propelled 15 ACM faculty members into Wilderness in the Anthropocene, an intensive, 10-day seminar in the northern reaches of Minnesota and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Read the blog posts!

As a group, they examined wilderness from a variety of disciplinary vantage points, talked with people who rely on the area's natural and human-made resources for their livelihoods, and visited sites ranging from Sigurd Olson's wilderness retreat to the enormous Hull Rust Mahoning mine. They also paddled the waterways of the BWCAW on a four-day canoe trip for firsthand experience in the wilderness.

Blog posts by two of the participants help tell the story of the intrepid group's excursion into the Midwest's one great wilderness and of grappling with complex questions raised and explored during their time together.

For Cornell College French professor Devan Baty, the adventurous spirit of the French Voyageurs — explorers and traders in the North American wilderness in centuries past — is a touchstone for describing the rigors and rewards of the SAIL group's four-day canoe trip into the lakes and waterways along the border between Minnesota and Canada.

"Experience of this beautiful, wild place has now become a part of what I carry with me — a sensory portage of impressions, sights and sounds," Baty wrote in her post, Pagayez Chers Camarades!

View of Low Lake

A view of Low Lake, near the Coe College Wilderness Field Station, the base for the on-site seminar on July 7-16, 2017..

"To me, interdisciplinary and integrative learning have always been centrally about finding insightful connections between seemingly disparate points of view — and then creating something new from this," Carleton College chemist Trish Ferrett noted in Wilderness: Closing the Gap.

"So what new can be learned here?" she asked in her post, as she reflected on how the just-completed seminar had intensively engaged both intellectual and experiential ways of knowing.

Wilderness in the Anthropocene is the last in a series of six ACM Seminars in Advanced Interdisciplinary Learning (SAIL), which have enabled faculty to delve deeply into expansive topics in locations ranging from Silicon Valley to Jordan. The participants' experiences in these interdisciplinary learning communities have provided models and knowledge that serve as a foundation for them to develop innovative courses, modules, and case studies for juniors and seniors on their campuses.

Visit the SAIL webpage to learn more about the seminars, topics, and participants. For information about curricular materials developed by faculty in the SAIL seminars, as well as in other ACM grant-funded faculty development programs, use the search features on the Project Outcomes webpage.

 

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