Since 1971, Earlham has been at the forefront of training and developing outdoor leaders and educators with a unique, liberal arts approach to outdoor and experiential education. The Outdoor Education designation is designed to prepare students for a leadership role in the professional field of outdoor education.

Developing Leaders

Through a combination of course work, trainings, and experiential practice in the field, the certificate program emphasizes the development of specific knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to lead groups and teach in outdoor associated settings.

Earlham has a national reputation for training outstanding outdoor educators. The unique combination of on-campus courses, field experiences and leadership practicums provides an excellent opportunity for development of both technical and interpersonal skills. Graduates have gone on to careers in environmental education, park management, wilderness guiding, and youth social work. Recent Earlham alumni have found work with Outward Bound, the Student Conservation Association, the National Park Service, and a variety of public and independent school settings.

Core Principles

  • The Adventuresome Spirit
    Viewing obstacles as challenges to be overcome. Actively seeking out opportunities to learn and to push oneself outside the "comfort zone." Living life in a "positive state of non-expectancy".
  • Sense of Place
    A connection to the land we are traveling through such that we are not just tourists or passersby but, rather, we become changed by our relationship with the land and its stories.
  • Servant Leadership
    Servant leadership is defined as the ability to think of others through the acquired skills of listening, observation, awareness, empathy, acceptance and foresight. It is the difference between caring "about" something or someone and "caring for" it.
  • The Contemplative Spirit
    The art of contemplation and reflection is what brings meaning to our lives. It is also fundamental to the kind of deep and rigorous observation and scholarship we value at Earlham. On courses, there will be many opportunities to practice the contemplative spirit.
  • Simplicity
    Simplicity and simple living is comprised of two parts: inward simplicity and outward simplicity. The two are, of course, connected. Inward simplicity can be defined by the priorities and goals that you have in your life and how you make decisions about them. Outward simplicity is how you manifest those priorities and goals to the world. Wilderness courses are all about simple living- both inwardly and outwardly. 

Related Links

Featured Field Courses


August Wilderness is an orientation program designed for first and second-years. One of the oldest and longest wilderness programs of its kind in the country, 17-day expeditions take place in the Uinta Mountains of Northeast Utah and Wabikimi Provincial Park in Canada. Read more...

Teach _water

The Outdoor Trip Leadership course serves as an introductory training for students seeking to lead outdoor field courses at Earlham or for other programs and organizations. Topics include trip planning and preparation, site selection, risk management, and group leadership.

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