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Academic Program in Adirondack Park Gets Green Light for Fall


Hamilton College is launching a new domestic off-campus study program this fall with 10 students, a professor-in-residence, 50 local partners and a six-million-acre classroom.

The Academic Program in the Adirondacks  is open to juniors and seniors in all concentrations. A few spots remain for the fall 2015 semester for students interested in a rigorous academic experience in a beautiful and historic location.

“The Adirondack Park provides an impressive experiential classroom in which students will investigate the ecological, geological, political, economic and cultural issues that shape its complex mix of natural and human environments,” said Janelle Schwartz, the founder and general director of the program. “Because the Adirondacks are an indispensable model for studying the conservation of wilderness alongside the development of human culture and industry, I designed this program as a way for students and faculty members to immerse themselves in the study of effective stewardship and best sustainability practices.”

Schwartz is a visiting assistant professor of English and creative writing and a 1997 Hamilton graduate. She teaches in the college’s English and comparative literature departments and is affiliated with the environmental studies program.

The Academic Program in the Adirondacks will be based at the historic Mountain House in Keene, N.Y., 14 miles from Lake Placid, in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park. Students will enroll in four courses: a seminar taught by the faculty-member-in-residence; an interdisciplinary seminar focused on stewardship and sustainability; an internship designed for national and global application; and an independent capstone project.

Professor of English and Creative Writing Onno Oerlemans will be in residence for the fall semester and will teach a seminar titled Wilderness, Culture, Science: Reading the Adirondacks. “My course will involve an ambitious and thoroughly interdisciplinary approach to what I am calling ‘reading the Adirondacks,’” Oerlemans said. “I want students to realize that although we might initially think of the Adirondacks as a kind of wilderness, a place removed from culture, it is deeply mediated by texts and by ways of reading.”

Schwartz said the interdisciplinary seminar will introduce students to the diverse and intersecting issues in the Adirondack Park and will be taught by members of the Hamilton faculty and park experts. She said the internships will allow students to make significant contributions to active projects in the park. The 50 local partners offering internships include local, national and international advocacy groups and non-profits such as the Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society; local farms and those concerned with sustainable land development; wildlife managers; municipal leaders and local and state government officials; entrepreneurs; schools and educators; health care systems; and arts and literature centers.

The capstone project will demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired by students, which can then be applied to real-world perspectives and possible career paths, according to Schwartz. “The credit provides an opportunity for further resume-building experience; it is meant to demonstrate a student’s ability for self-guided study and project execution and completion.”

Schwartz said she chose the Mountain House for its location and amenities.

“The Mountain House is a beautiful, historic site built in 1890 and run as an inn and bed and breakfast, and now being turned into an academic campus. I chose this as our program site largely because of its modern amenities amidst a gorgeous wilderness setting,” she said.

The program site was renovated in 2007 and includes a professional kitchen, wireless internet access, onsite laundry and parking, and three main structures in which students will live and study: the Main House, the Gulf Brook Cottage and the Alpine Lodge. The property is about 35 acres and includes plenty of green space, open porches and a trout stream. It is a short walk from the popular trailheads of Big Crow, Little Crow and Hurricane Mountains, and boasts quick access to a variety of outdoor leadership opportunities and recreational activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, cross country and downhill skiing, boating and paddling, and fly fishing. The site is centrally located to everyday amenities, such as shopping areas, restaurants and the students’ internship resources.

“The Mountain House offers students a true home in the Adirondacks and the opportunity to create a strong and indelible sense of place that they can carry with them into their post-Hamilton lives,” Schwartz said.

In addition to the Academic Program in the Adirondacks, Hamilton offers domestic off-campus study programs in Washington, D.C., and New York City. The College also operates programs in Paris, Madrid and Beijing and is part of a consortium offering a program in India.

The deadline for applications for the fall 2015 semester is April 30.

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