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MSU Environmental Philosophy Retreat Spring 2014

The Spring 2014 MSU Environmental Philosophy Retreat occurred from May 26th-31st in Au Train, Michigan. The retreat featured general team building exercises as well as “working meetings” aimed at sharing information and updates about one another’s projects, strengthening collaborative and mentorship relationships, and encouraging creativity. The retreat attendees covered a range of topics such as teaching environmental philosophy and preparing for the job market. Graduate students and faculty had the opportunity to present their work for feedback. For example, Samantha Noll, Zach Piso, and Ian Werkheiser gave an overview of their recent work on how a multiplicity of values influence small scale farmer practices; Michael O’Rourke and Zach Piso presented out on their research in interdisciplinary integration based on their collaborations with coastal fog scientists; and Esme Murdock gave an overview of her dissertation project that explores environmental justice, ecological restoration, and political reconciliation.

During the retreat, the MSU environmental philosophers took part in building a hoop house for the MSU Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center located in Chatham, Michigan. This hoop house is particularly important, as the farm is an “incubator” project devoted to training local farmers on how to use technological advances to improve farming practices. Here the hoop-house will be used to train farmers in methods useful for expanding the growing season. Click HERE for a full schedule of the event. While this was our first MSU environmental philosophy retreat, another is already being scheduled.

MSU Environmental Philosophy Retreat Fall 2014

The Fall 2014 MSU Environmental Philosophy Retreat occurred on September 19th-21st at Beaver Island, Michigan. The retreat featured general team building exercises and discussions about experiential education in environmental philosophy and ethics in outdoor locations. Beaver Island is a unique place ( because of its Odawa and Irish-American living heritages and because it is home to rare ecosystems and endangered species. The first day was spent in Petoskey, Michigan with colleagues from North Central Michigan College, who we are beginning to collaborate with on environmental education programming in Northern Michigan. We also had a networking reception at Elvyn Lea Lodge in Walloon Lake with the University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellows ( and members of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. The next day, early, the EP&E group boarded small plans to fly over to Beaver Island, which is only accessible by ferry and plane. We spent the rest of the trip learning more about the Island through the eyes conservationists working on the island and explored the possibility of several locations, including Tara’s Meadow Retreat Center, for future environmental education programming.