Bringing Higher Education Into The Wild In Alaska
By seaplane fishing boat and Kayak to southeast Alaska there and peers on your cabinets Michigan woman. WHO's trying to reinvent higher education? Her aim to use the wilderness to prepare diverse students for lives of purpose in an ever-more Fragile World Laura Marquez. His own college dream began with the rejection as a high school in Indiana more than anything she wanted to go to deep springs. It's a college on working cattle ranch in California students practice self-governance self-governance that is they help run the school. I called up the admissions office to plead my case. Not Knowing the at the time that the admissions office this was a nineteen year old guy. I was talking to on the phone and basically was told. No sorry we won't consider your application from its founding in eighteen. Seventeen up till twenty eighteen deep springs accepted only men so that ended that dream for the moment but I really never lost sight of that by the time she got to Yale. Marcus have decided that. If she wouldn't be allowed into deep springs she would found a new one. This time open to all got a Fiat around. Here it's early morning and Elfin cove a thirty minute seaplane ride west of Juneau Alaska. Marcus stress in rubber boots boots and flannel is motoring us. In an old crab boat toward around sheltered cove nickname the hobbit hole. It's a few buildings at the base of some steep pine covered mountains. There's a vegetable garden. Where some ducks are you on today? Yeah this is home. For the twelve students of the array project. A reta in Greek means excellence. The program is designed to answer the question. What if the work that students were doing not only in the classroom but also in the Lieber that they were performing on for the campus and in the work of self-governance that they were doing actually mattered after a few years of experimenting on a shoestring budget? Marcus has landed on intensive blended outdoor and classroom based learning. You'll see we've got all kinds of crab pots and pots around here. Long Alaska summer days are spent spend outside fishing dressing dear picking berries learning home studying skills like scraping halibut skin. I think fish skins. Yes you can. Man Make leather from a fish students. All spend three hours each day in seminar which focuses on people's relationship to nature ranging from their traditional knowledge at the local climate to using big data to track wildlife populations. At the end of the summer. They can earn college credit in Environmental Studies. The entire program is free and students are picked from all over the country. Marcus says the idea is take students who normally would never have interacted with one another. Who never would would have gone to college with one another or maybe never even seen one another to put them all in this really extraordinary experience the likes of which pretty much none of them have ever had before and see what happens sometimes? What happens is personal and emotional one day in seminar in the area Bunk House? That's with its woodstove. The students pick up an ongoing discussion of climate change. I fear goes back to Chelsea Hernandez was a student teacher at the University of Alaska. She talks about her fear that the children here will grow up wearing masks. Because of wildfires having to leave their home villages permafrost melts never again hearing certain certain birds and that is the most terrifying to think that the group of kindergartners that I just taught that by the time they graduate some of the things that they had grown to love in their world might not exist. Yazmin Sharifi a Yale graduate whose family emigrated from Iran objects. That were she comes from. Little children already suffering the effects of environmental damage in Iran. You see that the smog is worse and people will walk around wearing masks. Like that's normal for me personally as like living in Mali like it's drier than ever over there Marie tra- graduated it'd from the City University of New York. She seen children in Africa growing up among the garbage. America's ships away. Her voice breaks. It's really frustrating. That we just like like I guess. Cut the conversation. That's like a future thing because we keep talking about it but it's not a future thing. As an effing clustered on couches. Looking out in the woods students students try to make sense of big world problems with their varied life experiences away on living in close quarters and working hard outdoors knits. It's the community together. Highlight of Abe. Norman's first time here. Last summer was digging post holes for woodshed my hand. There's pictures of us with our arms arms like arm deep in the hole and it's especially fun when it's raining and you're just cycling on the ground to help them realize for sure he didn't want a corporate job going up to the twenty sixth floor and like walking past all these people kind of droning away at their cubicles he aims to become a firefighter air fighter but first he came back to rotate to be a program. Assistant whereas duties include running a blacksmith forge. They found on the property. This thing everybody's been making our are crooks. The next phase of the project will be a year long college program but it won't be all that much bigger if we tried to do this with fifty students or one hundred students students or a thousand students or ten thousand students we would necessarily lose something if not everything of what makes us education occasion unique. Marcus soap instead. Is that each person who passes through here will be transformed kind of like a after class. The students take kayaks out in the ICY street. To Catch Jenner Yasmine Hooks rock fish right away then two more she whispers thank you fish on E. Cabinets. NPR News News. Elfin Cove Alaska.