Many students pursue a Gap Year as a break from the routine of traditional academic coursework. At EEI we use a course structure to guide our learning but our courses are unlike any courses most of our students have ever experienced. There are no lectures, there are no quizzes, there are no hour exams. We learn by doing, by experiencing, by living. The faculty-supported peer teaching and leading opportunities, the processing of our direct experiences, bring the learning alive and make it personal and consistently transformative.
To study the Sonoran desert we live in the Sonoran desert. We camp amongst the giant saguaro, smell the creosote bush at dawn, listen to a flicker calling from the top of a cactus or watch a coyote lope across the sand. To study sustainable living we visit people who are crafting sustainable living strategies in challenging environments. They show us what they do, how they do it and tell us how well it’s working. We might have the opportunity to help them with a current project. The same sort of direct experience is true of all EEI courses. We use these direct experiences to spark our curiosity and then follow it wherever it may lead. This is the oldest kind of learning. Our species has evolved learning this way. An EEI program is a chance for students to rediscover that kind of learning for themselves.