Each of nine programs offers an introduction to college-level academic work, combined with hands-on exploration. Including programs such as DNA: Barcode of Life, Poetry on the Peaks, Eating Against the Machine, I Think Therefore I Make, and others, Marlboro’s summer programs offer young adults the opportunity to study with college faculty members and to build relationships with a group of other students passionate about learning, in the classroom and out.
“Many other colleges run summer programs or sessions, but I thought the opportunity to do both experiential learning combined with substantial, but not overwhelming, college learning was missing in them,” says Ariel Brooks, director of Marlboro College’s non-degree programs and summer program developer. “I want the programs to be both wonderful academic experiences as well as academic and social happenings.”
Through Socratic discussion and hands-on activities, Marlboro College’s summer programs illustrate the advantages of intimate group learning paired with accessible faculty and student leaders.
“It’s very cool for high school kids to be able to come to Marlboro, hang out with accessible college faculty and current students, and talk about higher-level subjects they do not normally get to talk about in high school,” said Brooks.
Professor of philosophy William Edelglass piloted one of the first two programs last summer entitled “Philosophies of the Wilderness” (this year entitled “Exploring the More-Than-Human World”) with fulfilling results. With experience as a wilderness guide for various organizations who has led trips in North and South America, Edelglass wished to integrate theoretical readings with the opportunity for active experiences that expand and highlight one’s exploration into the nature of, and our moral relations with animals, plants, and ecosystems.
“Last summer, the students bonded immediately over the practical tasks of preparing the gear, and playing fun games,” Edelglass says. “There’s something about the time you have together as a group over meals, while you’re cooking, while hiking and canoeing, in which deep discussions and teaching and engagement happen as a sort of grace, and I love that. Some of the most powerful times were experienced doing things that cannot be done in a classroom.”
Each day the students read philosophical texts, including essays on animals, Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, wilderness, and deep ecology. In addition to exploring the philosophy, students also learned to care and cook for themselves in the wilderness, to navigate and to paddle canoes.
“One night we went out and paddled for an hour in our canoes at midnight to gaze at the stars,” says Edelglass. “You can talk about the sublime, you can talk about a sublime experience in the natural world, but when you spend an hour in a boat looking at the stars, it’s a powerful experience. Some of the students have never done something like that before.”
Last year’s students hold “Philosophies of the Wilderness” in high regard. One wrote, “It was the best thing I have ever encountered,” and another, that “It pushed me to excel outside my comfort zone.”
“‘Exploring the More-Than-Human World’ will be a lot of fun,” Edelglass promises. “It will open up a whole set of questions we may not think about, both from an intellectual perspective, but also through experiences we share together in the wilderness through an embodied understanding of our relationship with the natural world.”
Professor of politics Meg Mott, who piloted the second of the two foundational summer programs entitled “Eating Against the Machine” was always interested in how farming and food security pertained to political philosophy.
“I was excited to take part not only because I am a political theory professor, but because I have been homesteading in Putney for three or four years, and some of that practice comes out of American agrarianism,” says Mott. “I really want the students to understand what it takes to feed oneself, the labor and energy required, and how to build sustainable communities in which basic needs are taken care of.”
Dividing time between hands-on visits to farms in southeastern Vermont, visiting farmers markets, and reading and discussing ancient and contemporary philosophical virtues on moderation and temperance, “Eating Against the Machine” presents big-picture conversations that help develop critical consciousness.
Student participants thought that there were plenty of intriguing and stimulating discussions and one remarked that “[I learned] alternative ways of thinking how I live my life.”
“I really wish for my students to begin thinking about food as a larger part of an economic system,” Mott explains. “The program last year was truly a high point of my teaching career.”
Early application deadline is March 1. For information on the program or to apply visit http://www.marlboro.edu/admissions/hs/summer/.