Words In the Woods: a field environmental philosophy course for girls

words in the woods copyAt Biocitizen, students learn about themselves as they learn about our place in the natural world.

chloe framed by soil copy 2

By bringing them into our outdoor classrooms—places charged with natural vitality, beauty and history—and unleashing their critical-thinking and aesthetic-feeling skills, Biocitizen gives students an opportunity to build upon all they’ve learned in institutional academic settings. Each outdoor class features experiences of “deep biotic immersion”—direct encounters with the ecology, geology, climate and creatures of our Valley and Hills. This kind of “hands-on,” participatory and fun education inspires mental and physical alertness and increases perceptual and cognitive abilities; students carry these qualities, and what they’ve learned in the field about nature and themselves, back indoors to enhance their institutional academic work.

Biocitizen is thus pleased to offer Words in the Woods, a special course that invites girls ages 10-12 to explore the natural world and to cultivate a greater understanding of themselves through walking, hiking,  thinking, reading and writing.  In combination with hiking and walking in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, girls who take the course will be asked to keep a journal to guide their creativity; whether the girls’ strengths be art or poetry or observation-based writing, the detailing of the biotic world will fall into their hands because creativity, as we know, comes in all shapes and forms.  We will also promote the sharing of the girls’ work within our group as a means through which to build self-confidence and a sense of community.

journal writing copyIn addition to the writing portion of the course, we will also introduce various philosophical concepts and questions rooted in the realm of nature and the environment.  What is our purpose and identity in nature? What can we learn from nature and the outdoors about our surroundings and ourselves? How are we, as women and girls, connected to the Earth?  While thinking about these questions and asking the girls to do the same, we will teach a brief overview of Environmental Philosophy in a way that makes sense for the girls and that is fun to learn.  Paired with our exploration of the Valley and beyond, we hope the girls will gain a sense of connectivity to the land and environment when learning of such important pioneers in the realm of Environmental Philosophy. Also, for the scientists at heart, we will be digging into the world of basic biology of the land, learning key tree species, flora, and wildlife native to New England. At the end of the day, our hope is that the girls will gain an overview of knowledge of the naturalistic world and enrich their scientific and creative sides.

Our course will be held from the time of ice, through the time of thaw, to the time of blossoms—and we will engage in discovering, sharing and charting these dramatic transformations.
This course is taught by Erin Mahon-Moore, a professor of English and avid hiker, and Maegan Puzas, a biologist and poet;  both Maegan and Erin are experienced Biocitizen Our Place instructors.

Words in the Woods includes a total of 8 sessions that will be held on these Sundays, from 11am-3pm:
The 11am drop-off and 3pm pick-up will be at Sheldon Field in Northampton. We will use the Biocitizen van to take us to our outdoor classrooms.

Students will dress as called for by conditions, and bring a backpack filled with food, water, writing equipment and a camera. Parents will receive an email on Saturday nights detailing the exact field itinerary and clothing requirements.


The cost for the 8 sessions (32 hours) is $320.00


To find out more about, or to register for, Words in the Woods please contact Erin by sending a note via the comment section below, or to info@biocitizen.org. If you would speak to her, please call 774.526.6507
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