There is a growing movement to offer community-oriented, place-based, meaning-centered learning opportunities in rural, sometimes remote, locations. In addition, there are growing concerns that universities are disconnected from rural issues, ill-equipped to support rural students, and contributing to the urban/rural partisan divide. In this webinar, participants will explore ways colleges and universities can connect with domestic rural communities by engaging with rural educators active in community-oriented learning.  

The panel will be co-moderated by Tom Schnaubelt, Assistant Director of the Hoover Institution’s Center for Revitalizing American Institutions at Stanford University, and Kam Bellamy, Executive Director of Springboard, a private operating foundation dedicated to advancing programs that intentionally focus on the personal development of young adults. Panelists will include leaders in the burgeoning field of experiential learning programs developing in rural communities: Laura Marcus, co-Executive Director of Tidelines Institute in Alaska; Philip Francis, Executive Director of Seguinland Institute in Maine; and Jacob Hundt, Executive Director of Thoreau College in Wisconsin.  Panelists will share lessons learned from experiences developing humanly-scaled institutes designed to foster a strong sense of community–agency and belonging–and facilitate dialogue about fundamental questions of the good life. They will share how they currently connect with colleges and universities–through domestic exchange offices, credit-transfer agreements, and career offices–and thoughts toward connections they would like to see expanded, deepened, and/or developed.  

In the second half of the webinar, we will invite input from participants, asking: What are the potential mutual/reciprocal benefits of connecting community engagement efforts with micro-colleges and structured gap year programs? How might existing connections be strengthened for students and communities? What has worked on your campus? What connections would you like to see develop? How can we recognize, honor and promote the unique learning opportunities available in domestic rural communities?  

Participants should come away knowing more about and feeling inspired by the growing development of high quality, meaning-centered domestic rural learning programs.  And, participants should leave with new perspectives on how to link colleges and universities to domestic rural areas and relationships to help make these connections possible.

Who should attend?

This event is free and open to members and non-members. It will further a conversation started at a Compact24 workshop on connecting with deeply transformative learning experiences in rural communities, but no previous knowledge is required. Community-engaged faculty, staff, and practitioners at higher education institutions are encouraged to attend. Students who are interested in or who have participated in credit- or non-credit bearing experiential, rural community-learning programs are also encouraged to attend.  

Meet the Moderators

Tom Schnaubelt, Assistant Director, Center for Revitalizing American Institutions, Stanford University/Hoover Institution

Tom believes that we should not argue with people until we understand them, and that requires us to listen. He earned a BS in Physics from the University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point, a MA in Education from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in Education from the University of Mississippi.

Kam Bellamy, Executive Director, Springboard

Kam believes in the potential of young people to remake the world.  She earned a Bachelor’s in Race and Gender Studies from Georgetown, spent three years apprenticing as a biodynamic vegetable grower, and completed an MBA at Yale.  At Springboard, Kam advocates for whole-person learning to develop purposeful self-leaders.

Meet the Panelists

Laura Marcus, Co-Executive Director, Tidelines Institute

Laura is committed to a vision of education that integrates the active life with the life of the mind. She works with her students to create experiential and liberal educational programs that prepare students to be thoughtful stewards of the world around them. Prior to founding Tidelines Institute, Laura worked at Deep Springs College and as a ranger with the National Park Service. Laura has her B.A. from Yale University, her M.Phil from the University of Cambridge, and is a doctoral candidate at Stanford University. In her spare time, she is an avid backpacker, reader, and cook.

Philip Francis, Executive Director, Seguinland Institute

Philip grew up on a boat yard in Georgetown Maine. He learned to philosophize in that salty mix of lobstermen pragmatists and back to the lander idealists. After painting the bottom of many a boat, he took his questions on the road: to liberation theology base camps in Nicaragua, ashrams in India and monasteries in Greece. He settled down at Harvard Divinity School where he completed his doctoral work in religion. He completed a postdoc at UPenn and professorships at Carleton College and Manhattan College before returning to his home state as Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at UMaine Farmington. His book, When Art Disrupts Religion, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

Jacob Hundt, Executive Director, Thoreau College

Jacob Hundt played a central role in the founding of Thoreau College in 2015 and now serves as Executive Director, as Board Member, as a Faculty member leading courses in literature, philosophy, and sustainable agriculture.  He  grew up on a dairy farm in the Driftless Region of southwestern Wisconsin and was one of the founding students of the Youth Initiative High School. He studied and gathered inspiration for transformation in higher education at Deep Springs College, the American University in Bulgaria, and the University of Chicago Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences, earning a BA in History and an MA in Social Sciences.  Since 2004, he has worked as a trained Waldorf high school teacher and guidance counselor at Youth Initiative High School and was a founding board member and instructor of the  Driftless Folk School.  Jacob is passionate about the importance of the liberal arts for our civilization and motivated to create a model that enables students to freely choose a post-secondary education dedicated to the cultivation of thinking, feeling, and willing.

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