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Appalachian Trail: Nature and American Identity

May 31 - June 23, 2018

Priority Deadline for Scholarship Consideration: December 1, 2017

Registration Deadline: February 2, 2018

Leave the 21st century behind and embark upon a trail forged by those who shaped the very land you know as home. Those brave souls who sacrificed comfort for knowledge have become the basis of how we understand America, and have informed how we have come to understand our country and ourselves. Students will investigate and interrogate the role Nature has played in the development of a unique American identity.

Exploring both literature and art history, students will delve into philosophical texts by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Jackson Turner, and Rachel Carson; literary texts by Walt Whitman, Jon Krakauer, and Barbara Kingsolver; and visual texts emanating from early American folk art, the Hudson River School, and artists such as John James Audubon, Thomas Cole, and Georgia O'Keeffe. These explorations will be undertaken alongside two lengthy excursions into Nature itself, during which students will:

• Hike the Appalachian Trail in three states

• Marvel at Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and Frederic Edwin Church's Olana

• Bike around the Hudson River Valley's Storm King outdoor sculpture museum

• Kayak on the Youghiogheny and Hudson Rivers

• Explore MassMoCA,the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

• Spelunk the Laurel Caverns in the Allegheny Mountains

No experience in hiking and kayaking necessary: the course is designed for novices and nature-lovers alike.


Richard Barber, a native of the Appalachian Mountains, is currently the Foundation Year Advisor and Coordinator of First-Year Academic Experience at MICA, where he has taught in the Humanistic Studies department for the past eight years. An avid hiker, Richard has enjoyed extended treks on the Appalachian Trail, Vermont's Long Trail, the Superior Hiking Trail, and the Inca Trail in Peru.

Tru Ludwig, a veteran printmaker, has show work on four continents, and has prints are in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Georgetown University, and the Library of Congress. Tru has taught at MICA since 1999 in the departments of Printmaking, Art History, Foundation, and Art Education. An ardent cyclist and outdoorsperson, Tru has spent many years kayaking on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota.

Program Fees

  • $3,800 includes tuition for 3 undergraduate credits in Art History or Intellectual History (fulfills IH2 requirement) or GFA.


Contact program coordinator Richard Barber at rbarber@mica.edu.

Open to undergraduate and graduate students in all majors-18 years or older with a valid passport-who have completed at least one year of college. For all programs, credits can be applied to Studio Elective. For more information, or to inquire about scholarships, contact MICA Open Studies at openstudies@mica.edu or 410-225-2219.

This page was last updated on 10/12/2017.