by Megan Gerst Rocker
This winter, LearningLife short course participants can go around the world in a day--or two or three, if they wish.
February 24 kicks off Adventure Travel: Three Stories, a miniseries-style short course featuring speakers and instructors who travel to exotic parts of the world as an integral part of their lives and work.
The miniseries is a new format for LearningLife: the course as a whole is unified by a common theme, but each night of the course features a stand-alone topic and participants have the option of registering for one, two, or all three of the meetings. (See end of story for registration links to each meeting.)
Says LearningLife program director Lara Roy, "Depending on their schedules and/or interests, people can get a taste of a theme...or savor the whole experience."
The first session (February 24) features Aaron Doering (pictured), U of M associate professor and designer and founder of the GoNorth! Adventure Learning Series and the new Earthducation Series.
Doering, who has dogsledded and skied thousands of miles across the Arctic in order to educate students and bring attention to global climate change and sustainability, will showcase his adventure learning programs, which he began in 2004.
"As a former social studies teacher, I recognized early on that students and adults around the world needed an opportunity to learn about global climate change, sustainability, and the impact each individual is having on this issue," he says.
"During my morning run years ago, I had an epiphany: educators needed to tie real-world experiences to a curriculum that affords collaboration among learners in an online learning environment... thus, 'adventure learning' was born."
Since then, Doering has led online education programs from such locales as Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland, and Burkina Faso, Africa.
The amazing peaks of the Himalayas will be the destination on March 10, as longtime Star Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar describes how he got his start in adventure travel, visiting such exotic locations as the Andes and the Himalayas.
Years ago, while climbing and hiking in the Tetons, Klobuchar realized he had found "a kind of kinship with the high country." That passion expanded into an interest in flying light planes, parachuting, and then into leading treks into the Himalayas. "In April, it will be my 20th time there," he says. "People have asked 'Why do you keep going back?' My answer is the simplest I can think of. 'Why not?' It's become part of my life."
Klobuchar is eager to share that passion in his section of the Adventure miniseries, and believes that the course will hold something for everyone--whether they have been to far-flung corners of the globe themselves, or want to experience it through the stories of others' travels.
"Most of us, especially in our youth, are intrigued by what's around the corner or over the hill, something beyond. Some are able to pursue that lodestar. Others live it vicariously or a simply are fascinated by the shared experience," he says.
"I have been one of those star-chasers who happened to have an audience as a newspaperman and author, and I've enjoyed escorting the readers on the journey. Some of them might be moved to expand their lives. Others might simply enjoy a good story. Either way, the adventure helps to create a community--one that might last for only an hour, or for a lifetime."
Greg Lais, founder and executive director of Wilderness Inquiry, will be the final instructor for the miniseries. In the mid-1970s, Lais took a group of 12-year-old students on a winter camping trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Despite the conditions, the group had a fantastic time, and Lais realized then that, with the right attitude and know-how, almost everyone could enjoy the outdoors.
In 1977, he co-organized a trip to the Boundary Waters involving two people who used wheelchairs and two who were deaf. That trip opened new possibilities and changed the lives of everyone involved, including Lais. In 1978, he formally incorporated the planning group as a nonprofit--Wilderness Inquiry.
Since then, Wilderness Inquiry has continued to expand. More than 250,000 people have gone on its canoe, kayak, dogsled, horsepack, and hiking adventures throughout North America and the world including trips to the Yukon, Alaska, Costa Rica, and Australia.
On March 24, Lais will share his experiences in organizing adventure travel for people of all ages and abilities, and then help participants move from being armchair travelers to full-fledged adventurers themselves.
Register individually for:
Adventure Travel With Aaron Doering