Earth Lodge

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 The course has three primary objectives: (1) to exercise and hone skills of critical observation of our environment, (2) to provide an introduction to physical geography emphasizing concepts of scale, connectivity and boundaries as they apply to the James River watershed, and (3) to link theory learned in class to the practice of natural resource management in the local community.

The course has a community-based learning component that combines academic readings and research, classroom discussions and hands-on experiences with community partners to develop meaningful projects within the watershed.

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 Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains, outdoor excursions serve as a vehicle to expand learning, build community, and develop confidence.

Each year the Earth Lodge plans different co-curricular activities and events. Some past Earth Lodge activities include:  

  • Service activities with the James River Parks System and William Byrd Farmlet
  • Rafting, tubing and kayaking on the James
  • Nature walks along Westhampton Lake and Gambles Mill Corridor
  • Hiking and camping:
    • Blue Ridge Mountains
    • Holliday Lake
    • Shenandoah National Park
    • First Landing State Park
    • Mt. Mitchell and Linville Gorge
  • Comparative site visits:
    • Falls of the Potomac River (Washington, D.C.)
    • Falls of the Congaree River (Columbia, SC)

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, or expand upon topics brought up in class, 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.

Course Fast Facts

Todd Lookingbill, Ph.D.

GEOG/ENVR 215: Geography of the James River Watershed (1 unit)
Monday/Wednesday, 9–10:15 a.m. (Fall 2013)

Residence hall:
Atlantic House (2013–14)

Earth Lodge Features

Read more about the Earth Lodge through the stories of Earth Lodge alumni and the Geography of the James class:

Colin Cardwell, '12

Asha Phadke, '12

More about Geography of the James

Dr. Todd Lookingbill named Researcher of the Year