Approaching Walden

Approaching Walden is a six-day professional development seminar for high school educators and graduate students. The seminar provides teachers with the skills they need to lead their students in a study of their home community. This place-based interdisciplinary workshop uses Henry David Thoreau’s writings and philosophy as a model. Through Thoreau's example of living deliberately, we can learn how to do so in our own communities and pass it along to the next generation.

Dates for 2018 are Sunday, July 15-Friday, July 20!  

Application Deadline: February 28 for preferred consideration

Seminar Highlightskenjournaling_small
This annual seminar features a daily mix of lectures, field trips, readings, discussions and reflection. Participants encounter speakers from different fields with expertise in the areas of natural history, writing, literary analysis, art and the environment. Seminar features include:

  • lectures on Thoreau, Transcendentalism and social reform by experts in their fields;
  • workshops on conservation and the environment, historic land use and nature journaling; and
  • trips to Walden Pond and historic Concord.

Who Participates: While high school teachers (from various disciplines) are the majority of participants, we've also welcomed graduate students of education, middle school educators and others who educate in non-traditional settings.

Program Fee: $50 (submitted to guarantee your spot once accepted to the program)

Travel Stipends:  Depending on how far away from Walden Pond you live, we offer travel stipends:

  • $600 for participants living outside of New England;
  • $300 for participants living in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Massachusetts (50 miles or more from Walden Pond); or
  • $100 for participants living in Massachusetts, fewer than 50 miles from Walden Pond.

Kati Outdoor classroomGraduate Credit and Professional Development Points:

  • 45 Professional Development Points (through the EDCO Collaborative)—participants seeking to receive PDPs will be required to complete a “sense of place” curriculum unit consisting of at least three lesson plans, due two weeks after the conclusion of the program.
  • 3 graduate-level credits from Fitchburg State University (for an additional fee of $285)--participants seeking graduate course credit will be required to complete a “sense of place” curriculum unit consisting of five lesson plans, due two weeks after the conclusion of the program.

For more information:  Visit Approaching Walden FAQs or send a message to Whitney Retallic, Director of Education.


Praise from recent Approaching Walden participants:

"The experience touched my spirit at so many levels...Just such a majestic time, steeped in beauty and meaning."

“Approaching Walden was a personal journey as well as an opportunity for professional growth. This combination was both refreshing and rewarding. One characteristic which set Approaching Walden apart from other professional development was the level of care and interest demonstrated by the staff. They wanted us to learn and grow as people and educators.”

“It was THE BEST PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT I have ever attended! It had great variety and depth. A wonderful group to learn with. The staff was fantastic!”

“It was, in truth, a life-changing week, and I could never say anything like that about any other PD I have taken.”

"Overall this was one of the best professional development programs I ever attended. It was thoughtful, organized and inspiring."

"This has been a wonderful seminar that has re-energized me and give me fabulous ideas to take away and hold and share."Anna, Laura and Ron outside

"I liked the depth, length, quality of content and professional experience, and mix of classroom and field studies."

"The best part of the seminar was the variety of lenses through which to experience place and think about our role in nature and society..."

"I wish all professional development could be this dynamic and meaningful."

“I came in thinking I was going to learn more about my content area...I did, and I also learned more about myself.”

“Everything really seemed to run like a well-oiled machine. I really have no suggestions for improvement because I got something out of each reading, each talk, each activity.”

“I expected to learn some new teaching strategies and to enjoy myself, personally. However, I left Approaching Walden feeling changed, bettered, both personally and professionally. I not only got those teaching strategies and ideas, but I feel absolutely inspired, and I cannot wait to teach Thoreau's works again!”