Mission Statement

The mission of the Adirondack Semester is to enable students to study nature and human relationships with nature through academic classes enriched by direct experience. Important elements of the semester include understanding of critical environmental issues; living in a materially simple, close-knit community and in close connection to wild nature; learning the skills to recreate safely and pleasurably in wild nature; understanding elements and interrelationships of the natural world; and reflecting critically and creatively on the experiences of the semester and the many questions it raises. The Mission Statement is supported by eight Defining Principles. These Principles inform the Semester's programming, academics, operations and lifestyle. They are to:

  • Encourage deeper engagement with the natural world through immersion in a location with wilderness qualities, relevant coursework and extracurricular activities.
  • Cultivate a positive living and learning community comprised of students and staff based upon shared labor, curiosity, and experiences.
  • Commit to engaging in a materially simple lifestyle.
  • Promote and work towards best Sustainable Practices by minimizing environmental impacts.
  • Foster a critical review and use of technologies that do not distract from immersion within wild nature and the Arcadian community.
  • Explore and understand critical environmental issues.
  • Introduce the basic outdoor skills necessary to recreate in wild nature.
  • Critically and creatively reflect upon ADK Semester practices and value.

Appropriate technologies at Arcadia:

  • Include items that do not distract from our engagement with and immersion in the natural world
  • Must support the greater mission of the program
  • Encourage students to critically reflect on the impacts of technology on their lives and on society and the environment
  • Examples of technologies generally considered inappropriate include:
    • Laptops
    • Ipads and similar tablet devices
    • Cell phones and Smart Phones
    • Radio
    • Television
    • Speakers

Students will have limited access to a phone land line off site.

Sustainable Practices:

  • Support local businesses and enterprises when feasible
  • Reuse items when possible
  • Reduce consumption
  • Promote self-sufficiency for students and within programming

Material Simplicity:

  • Minimize consumption of goods and services
  • Rationale:
    • Minimizes distraction
    • Promote environmentally-friendly lifestyle that demands less of our Earth’s resources