“Marlboro College has remarkable and deep roots in Vermont,” says Kyhl Lyndgaard, professor of writing and director of environmental studies at Marlboro. “But to paraphrase nature writer John Daniel, we can also say words in favor of rootlessness, at least in the form of a semester on a bus.”
Kyhl was referring to Marlboro’s new partnership with the Expedition Education Institute (EEI) to adopt innovative, bus-based programs pioneered by EEI into Semester at Marlboro offerings. Together, the two organizations will provide an undergraduate and gap-year pilot semester in the fall of 2015, and are in discussion about the possible launch of a new Master of Arts in Teaching for Ecological Education and Leadership.
EEI comes from more than 40 years of higher education rooted in direct experience, independent learning, and immersion in the natural world, as practiced by the former Audubon Expedition Institute. Participants live and learn together in an experiential learning community, traveling in a custom-retrofitted school bus. Students and faculty eat, sleep, and study outdoors within a specific bioregion as they explore local and global environmental challenges faced by communities and ecosystems.
“EEI is entirely field based but still interdisciplinary, which is a hallmark of environmental studies at Marlboro,” says Kyhl, who points out that with many alumni common to EEI and Marlboro, the fit was clear even before the partnership became official. “EEI allows for the experiential and self-directed learning that has long been central to the Marlboro model, but is mobile.”
The fall 2015 semester will take place in the Adirondacks and Appalachia, with a focus on energy and climate justice, and will be open to gap-year students, Marlboro College students, and visiting undergraduate students from other institutions. Spring 2016 will find the bus in the southeastern states, with a focus on sustainable food and farming. For more information, go to: marlboro.edu/getonthebus.