Alaska Glacier Ice Mountain. | Pexels

The summer getaway is about to get stu­dious, as the Great Tra­dition takes on the great out­doors in the 2018 Glacier Bay Session, a four-week summer con­ference in southeast Alaska. Two Hillsdale stu­dents will be selected to study American writing about the out­doors — think Whitman, Berry, and Thoreau — in its natural habitat.

“Twelve stu­dents will spend the month exploring the classics of American nature writing, forming and gov­erning their own small-scale political com­munity, and learning the skills required to survive and thrive on a frontier home­stead,” exec­utive director Laura Marcus said in an email.

The schol­arship, made pos­sible by a private donation, will be awarded to two Hillsdale stu­dents via an online appli­cation for a work-study program that grafts labor onto learning.

The program takes place at the out-of-the-way Inian Islands Institute, a 20-minute boat ride from Elfin Cove, Alaska, which fea­tures limited Wifi and cell service, the better to study Berry with. Under­graduate stu­dents are selected from only one of seven insti­tu­tions, including Yale, the Uni­versity of Alaska, City Uni­versity of New York, and Deep Springs College.

The project follows the “three pillars” of the Arete Project, according to the program website: “intensive aca­d­emics in the liberal arts and sci­ences; physical labor per­formed in service of campus and com­munity; and student self-gov­er­nance over each other and over the program as a whole.”

Stu­dents will spend 20 hours per week doing physical labor, including gar­dening, con­struction, and food prepa­ration.

This edu­ca­tional approach is rooted in the history of the Arete Project and its con­nec­tions to the Tel­luride Asso­ci­ation and Deep Springs College, a two-year insti­tution founded to balance serious aca­demic study with manual labor, all within a culture that fosters self-gov­er­nance, according to the program website.

Pro­fessor of phi­losophy Nathan Schlueter heard about the program from Marcus, a Yale alumna, whom he taught in the Inter­col­le­giate Studies Institute more than 10 years ago.

“It looks to me like a program that fits well with the kind of stu­dents Hillsdale attracts,” Schlueter said. “But since the college is not spon­soring the event, stu­dents should do their own due dili­gence in researching it.”

Hillsdale stu­dents are inter­ested in the program for the way it brings together learning and life, both now and in the future.

“I’ve always dreamed of being mostly self-suf­fi­cient when I’m a home­owner. The Glacier Bay summer program appeals to me so much not simply because it teaches skills of self-suf­fi­ciency, but because it does so through intel­lectual lens; the par­tic­i­pants read history, phi­losophy, and lit­er­ature. I’m con­stantly pon­dering the question of Man’s rela­tionship with Nature, a question that this program addresses head-on,” senior Patrick Lucas, an applicant to the program, said. “I strongly identify with the sen­ti­ments of their coop­er­ation along with the idea that being in the wilderness allows one to be his truest self — both of which are expressed by Henry David Thoreau, who’s an author the program employs to teach self-gov­er­nance. I also like exploring, and Alaska is one of many places I have never been.”

Marcus offered to reserve two stu­dents for the seminar based on her past expe­rience with stu­dents in the Inter­col­le­giate Studies Institute honors program.

“I am quite eager to have Hillsdale stu­dents par­tic­i­pating in this course,” Marcus said. “I’ve always been deeply impressed with their out­standing char­acter and intel­lectual rigor. It would be espe­cially valuable for us to have a couple stu­dents who already had some famil­iarity with Thoreau, Whitman, Berry, and the like.”

The program, which runs from July 17th to August 13th, is free to the two stu­dents selected, thanks to an anonymous private donation. This includes airfare, room and board, local trans­portation, and a stipend. The appli­cation deadline, available online at the Arete Project website, is Feb­ruary 10.