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-class students.
In the Classroom
GEOG/ENVR 215: Geography of the James River Watershed is a study of the local environments and protected areas within the James River watershed. The course explores the natural and human connections that define the resource challenges and opportunities within this urban watershed. Students will also examine a variety of texts in terms of their literary qualities, their contribution to our reflections about humanity, and our relationship to nature.
The course has a community based learning component that has students combining their academic readings and research, classroom discussions and hands-on experiences to work on projects for the the James River Park System.
Outside the Classroom
Residents of the Earth Lodge are encouraged to self-govern, plan co-curricular activities, and promote the lodge as a place where other students and organizations with a passion for the Earth can feel welcome. From the James River to the Blue Ridge Mountains, outdoor excursions serve as a vehicle to expand learning, build community, and develop confidence.
Students start their semester before the academic year begins. They move to campus early and leave campus for the annual Earth Lodge retreat. The 2011 Earth Lodge students will go to a 19th century cabin, Corbin Cabin, by the Hughes River in Shenandoah National Park through the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). During the retreat, students discussed the book Earth Abides, a book the Earth Lodgers read over the summer, camped, hiked, and cooked all of their meals over an open fire.
Each year the Earth Lodge plans different co-curricular activities and events. Some past Earth Lodge activities include:
- Odyssey Course, UR's on-campus ropes course
- Pony Pasture plant walk
- James River Loop Hike
- Hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains
- Hiking at Ramsey's Draft
- Working with City Naturalist, Ralph White, and the James River Parks System
- Service projects