Academics on the Living-in-Maine Semester are rooted in place-based education. Place has been described as the "nexus of culture and environment" (Gruenewald 2003, 145), and the study of place provides context, connection and meaning across disciplines. Students learn about place through ecological study, subsistence living, community engagement, history, mentorships, and service. Place-based learning does not preclude a global perspective. On the contrary, as we study what is happening in western Maine it is a doorway to understanding our role in global issues such as climate change and social justice.
Climate Change Education: Because of its magnitude and scope we employ climate change as a unifying lens of investigation across disciplines. Understanding the social, political, economic, philosophical, scientific and technological forces that have contributed to the climate crisis is foundational to educating change-makers.
Experiential Education is a cyclical learning process of having an experience, reflection upon the experience, then taking action based upon that reflection which precipitates another experience! The Following are key experiences and reflective tools of the Living-in-Maine Semester :
The Homestead: Through daily work students take responsibility for their own food, water, and energy needs: milking goats, grinding grain, planting seeds, cutting firewood. The homestead is a learning laboratory that illuminates our interdependence and provides a place for experimenting, questioning, and change making.
The Expedition: This eight-day backpacking trip explores navigational skills, gathering of wild edibles, traditional camp set up, history of land use, weather, orienteering, and communication skills. The expedition, which is conducted early in the semester, lays a foundation for the following months of learning in community.
Applied Research Project: : Working in pairs, students undertake a semester-long research project of their own choosing. They interact with local communities-human and/or natural- and engage our keystone question: “How do we live wisely in our bioregion?”
“All education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded students are taught that they are a part of or a part from the natural world.”
Outdoor Education Mentorship Project: Once-a-week Living-in-Maine students spend an afternoon with elementary school students, sharing their expanding skills and excitement for the outdoors with the younger children. We work with teachers to support curriculum and meet standards.
Cottage Industry Project: Many resources in our bioregion can be turned into small scale regenerative enterprises. Students acquire skills in a number of cottage industries: maple sugaring, custom sawing with a portable mill, mushroom farming, pottery making, beekeeping, creating herbal products, vegetable farming, and dairy production
Local Resilience Tool Kit: All students leave the program with a working "tool kit", parts of which they craft themselves. Students carve the handles for their axes, sew the sheaths for their knives, construct a rocket stove, weave a basket, and make a Samii sewing kit of bone. With these few tools Students can cook, bake, mend, carve, carry, grind, craft, harvest and tend.
The Solo: Near the end of the semester each student embarks on a two-day wilderness solo. Equipped with the skills they have acquired throughout the semester, students will be confident and “at home” in the natural world. The solo celebrates all they have learned and achieved.
The Journal: The student journal is a comprehensive story of the semester experience. It contains lessons, poems, technical knowledge, drawings, observations, reflections, notes, etc.