Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Frank Tuitt

Third Advisor

Christina Linder

Fourth Advisor

Charles Patti


Experiential education, New England literature program, Outdoor experiential education, Place-based education, Portraiture


This study, using the portraiture methodology, provides an analysis of the lifelong significance of an undergraduate program that integrates literature with an outdoor experiential platform. With limited research on long-term effects of an academic outdoor experiential course on one's life, there is space to wonder about the prospect and nature of the long-term significance of an academic course that may offer technical skill, intrapersonal and interpersonal development, and also the delivery of subject matter related to a traditional or mainstream academic area of study.

Utilizing an academic skills-oriented lens as well as a character strengths lens, portraits were crafted of four former participants of the University of Michigan's New England Literature Program (NELP) to shed light on the long-term influence of this type of course, crucial participant characteristics that contribute to the program's impact, and specific components of the program that are particularly integral to the course's efficacy. Since 1975, each spring term a small contingent of students and educators has lived in the woods in the New England region as a community of learners, artists and explorers. NELP is an exemplar of a longstanding undergraduate academic English course that integrates the literature of New England writers, exploratory writing and student experiences relating to regional literature and the land.

Emergent themes of this course's long-term influence on former participants include increased collaborative skills, increased self-confidence and self-knowledge, a reinforcement of lifelong relationships with the outdoors, and nurtured creativity. For participants to reap benefit from this course, it was important for them to enter with maturity to conduct themselves with openness to new experiences, relationships, and extensive reflection. Findings relating to the integral components of such a program include that of being place-based, oriented towards process, and being an intentional, collaborative community.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Lauren Elizabeth Victor


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

167 p.


Higher Education, Education