Experiential education aims to take academic subject matter out of the realm of abstraction and ground it in a tangible and relevant context. A well rounded college education provides students with the opportunity to apply what they are learning through direct experience of their subject matter. WRFI offers exceptional opportunities to immerse students in a variety of curricula. On WRFI courses students experience their education; they are not passive recipients of information. The result is improved cognition, focus, and satisfaction with their college experience.
WRFI promotes rigorous interdisciplinary, holistic learning through a diversity of readings, discussions and experiences. We do not separate and compartmentalize course content as is done on most university campuses. Instead, course content and subject matter are taught concurrently. The result is an authentic representation of the complexity present in issues faced by the ecosystems and human communities we visit.
It’s not all cerebral, either. WRFI courses are a sensory experience, all taught while traveling under our own power – backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, and cycling – in rural and wilderness settings from Montana to the Canadian Rockies and the American Southwest. Depending on the course, students might bike 700 miles across Montana or hike in the footsteps of Yellowstone’s grizzlies. Students sleep in tents, beneath the stars and in the wind; there are no cushy field stations or dormitories—which means developing outdoor and leadership skills is part of the program too.
WRFI has cultivated relationships with our guest speakers over many years and they contribute immensely to the course content and student experience. Through their positions as experts in their fields and community members, our guest speakers impart a broad spectrum of opinions and perspectives to students, enriching the curriculum with narrative and dialogue. Throughout each course, students will visit with guest speakers in the places they work, live, protect, and play.