With the nearby Adirondacks beckoning, Baylor Johnson needed to find a way to bring his students into nature. “Class field trips just weren’t enough,” says the Philosophy department chair.
So Johnson set out to create an experience where students could live and learn in the outdoors. After years of brainstorming with faculty, he came up with the idea of the Adirondack Semester and, during a chance encounter at the grocery store, pitched the idea to former President Daniel Sullivan. “A year and a half later we had our first semester, in the fall of 2000,” Johnson says.
Every fall semester, 12 students live in yurt village surrounded by tall evergreens and on a pond near Tupper Lake, N.Y. They take classes like Knowing Nature and Natural History and Ecology of the Adirondacks. In the final weeks of the semester, they undertake internships with local community members in areas as diverse as hydro-electric power and farming.
“Students still contact me about how powerful an experience it was to immerse themselves in the Adirondacks, and to learn and live in a community,” says Johnson.
--Allison Shea ’13