In the past 30 years, the field of education has shifted from an emphasis on individuals as learners to an understanding of learning as a communal endeavor. “Learning community” is one of the key terms educators use to speak about the web of relationships that enables genuine learning and social change to take place.
While living at the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, students will be part of a cohort of no more than 15 students, each taking the same block of courses. Coursework will require a great deal of collaboration. The goal is a culture that supports everyone’s learning.
Community living is a critical part of the learning experience. Establishing community can be a challenging endeavor that takes work and willing participation. Students need to be prepared to work together as a group to make decisions and work through issues that arise. Students will participate in cooking, cleaning, garden tending, harvesting and food preservation as part of community life. Students will take turns sharing leadership responsibilities for the group so they will need to be prepared to both lead and follow. This type of program functions best when all participants, students and staff, are committed to the group experience. It is a chance for us all to think less about our individual needs and more about the needs of the whole community.
Merry Lea is located near Wolf Lake, Indiana, in a rural agricultural region halfway between Goshen and Fort Wayne. Community life will be relatively quiet with lots of opportunities to engage with the 1,189 acres of land that Merry Lea has to offer – activities such as canoeing, hiking, biking and swimming are available on a whim! While fast paced nights with city lights are not a part of the SLS or ASI, nearby towns offer shopping for groceries and other goods, as well as social spots including a bowling alley, a coffeehouse and a movie theatre.
Students will live on site at Merry Lea in two of the cottages that make up Rieth Village. Here, students will experience a setting where a great deal of thought has already gone into sustainable living. Rieth Village earned Indiana’s first platinum LEED® rating from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008. You’ll flush your toilet with rainwater, heat your coffee with solar power and stay cool with the help of white metal roofs and careful building orientation. Each cottage has four rooms, two bathrooms and an inviting common living area.