The Earth Lodge—"a community for naturalists by naturalists"—offers a shared living experience that moves students beyond the limits of the traditional classroom to enhance learning and promote interdisciplinary engagement and discussion. The Earth Lodge has a long tradition at Richmond, being its first living-learning communities for upper-division students.
While there is no unit-bearing course associated with the Earth Lodge, residents can expect a number of programs throughout the academic year, both on and off-campus, and have opportunities that are only available to Lodge members. Lodgers will have programming centered around four major themes:
The Earth Lodge community members also participate in a weekly literature circle, led and organized by Earth Lodge alums, with the goal of enhancing the academic experience by exposing students to readings that introduce interesting and relevant ideas, as well as enhance their community experience by learning about each other via personal stories, free expression of ideas outside of the classroom, and having fun. The literaure circle will include books, documentary films, movies, and articles.
Part of the experience of Earth Lodge is spending time as a community off-campus and being engaged in nature. Lodgers will have opportunities to participate in Outdoor Adventure and Recreation programs, as well as plan their own trips and programs. Past Lodge communities have rafted, tubed and kayaked the James River, hiked and camped along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, First Landing State Park, Mt. Mitchell and Linville Gorge, and Holliday Lake.
Earth Lodge members will be able to become trained, educated, and have the opportunity to become certified in a number of outdoor leadership programs. Students will work with faculty and staff to identify the trainings and opportunities, but could include:
- Leave No Trace
- Wilderness First Aid
- Outdoor Trip Leadership Training
- Ropes Course Facilitation
- James River River Rats
A hallmark of the Earth Lodge has been Lodgers involvement in the Richmond region. Students have volunteered with and completed projects for the James River Park System and the James River Watershed Association. Lodgers can expect to work on a project with one or more of the University's community partners related to the environment.