Beyond the Classroom with David Gilligan

Emergency to Emergence

Oct 17 2021 • 34 mins

David Gilligan, Faculty in Ecology and Associate Dean of Sterling's Wilderness Field Programs, wants other humans to know that nature is our home.  He reminds us that wild nature is the ”wellspring of human being, of all diverse cultures on planet earth, of all creativity, of all thought.”  After many years of venturing into the wild nature and conceiving of it as the ultimate unbounded classroom, David remains awed by the depth and kinds of learning that are possible in extended backcountry field programs.  For this reason, he (along with recent guest Laura Beebe), lead Sterling’s Wilderness Field Program, which gives undergraduate and Gap Year learners an immersive opportunity to simultaneous participate in a liberal arts education and adventure in the American Southwest and emerge as influential interdisciplinary naturalists, environmental leaders, educators, and protectors of the wild.  Guided by the belief that free people are responsible for knowing about and caring for our earthly home, the Wilderness Field Program uses experiential, liberal arts education -- and a curriculum that blends outdoor skills with natural history and sciences, arts, humanities, and indigenous cultural studies -- to prepare the next generation to protect, preserve, and thrive as part of the natural world.   [05:08]-David speaks of the simple notion that nature is our home. “It's kind of the wellspring of human being, of all diverse cultures on planet earth,  of all creativity,  of all thought and goes from there. [08:56]-David speaks about one of his mentors of natural history who is fond of saying “there has never been a culture without natural history. It's part of being human. It is being human and the practice of natural history is the practice of being human, but never has there been a time in the world? Well, natural history has been practiced less than today, so that's kind of the conundrum we're in and briefly following the notion that historian naturalaus or the inquiry into nature is part and parcel with being human giving people experiences where they can connect with the natural world...the wilder, the better with a solid curriculum and really awesome mentors. Their world is changed and the way that they then go and engage in the practices of their own lives becomes more, essentially human, less industrial, less digital, less, kind of, emessed in the trappings of the 21century…” [14:15]- David talks of the origins of every single culture on planet earth coming forth from wild, natural landscapes. “It's in all of our heritage. So why not make that accessible to everyone? I found that one of the important pieces that accelerates the learning process for people out there is the distractions of modern life are basically eliminated...everything is pared down and simplified to a level where people's learning retention is amazing. People's stamina for learning new content and new skills is unparalleled. The results are just incredible.” [21:39]-David discusses trying to cultivate what we think from our perspective would be the ideal interdisciplinary environmental leader of the 21st century who is going to be very active through immersive experience. Like Rachel Carson was like Terry Tempest Williams is, like Gretel Ehrlich is, like John Muir was, like Henry David Thoreau was. All of these people, the signature is the deep experience that they had with the natural world. They weren't armchair ecologists.  They, they lived it, and that's what we want our people to do nothing less than what those mentors have done for us.   TIMESTAMPS [24:25]-  David speaks of spending time in small groups, in focused learning environments away from modern distractions gives us a tool kit. “ It gives us a skillset to interact with other human beings that’s so authentic and real that students could come out of this program, be amazing executive directors for nonprofits, be CEOs of corporations....