Philosophy Camp

Philosophy Camp
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

Announcement: Philosophy Camp is on hiatus until further notice.

Lives Worth Living: Questions of Self, Vocation, and Community (PHIL 4326/5326) or as we affectionately call it, Philosophy Camp, is a four-credit, three-week University of Minnesota residential course that takes place in southwestern Minnesota. In this course students explore questions of self, identity, community, sustainability, and ultimately what makes a life worth living. The course also satisfies University of Minnesota theme requirements for Citizenship/Public Ethics and Other Humanities Core.

There is also a two-credit, one-week version aimed at those interested in the pedagogical approach implemented in Phil 4326/5326. The course is titled Catching Lives Worth Living: Participation in the Growth of a Living-Learning Community (PHIL 4350/5350), and can enroll up to two student fellows during each week of the camp.

During the course you’ll live at the Shalom Hill Farm retreat center in Windom, Minnesota. Each student either has their own room or shares a room with another student. There are lots of opportunities to get outdoors and explore the farm and the surrounding countryside. There’s hiking, campfires, and a llama on the farm known as “Mama Llama”. But there’s also lots to do indoors too! There’s a huge kitchen, a library, an art studio, and a large dining room big enough for dance lessons!

Class work is not the traditional sort of work you see in your regular semester classes. The main teaching method involves morning community “circles” where we meet as a group, tell stories, and reflect on our own and each others’ experiences. Asking questions and sharing experiences are central to the practice of philosophy. Students and instructors form a community for living and learning to investigate their own and others responses to questions such as these:

  • What is an authentic self?
  • Who am I? What is vocation?
  • What is my work in the world?
  • What kind of community do I want to have around me?
  • What do I bring to my relationships and community?

In addition to story circles, students and instructors discover fresh perspectives through learning by doing. We engage in processes of:​

  • Making our own growth, and making our growth visible.
  • Making local friends, and making our own community.
  • Making our own food, making our own stories, and making our own fun.

Students make all of the food for course participants during the three weeks. If you love cooking, it’s a great way to share recipes and skills, and if you don’t know much about being in a kitchen, it’s a great way to learn. During camp we take a number of field trips to learn about and volunteer for local businesses, sustainable farms, and nonprofit and community centers in and around Windom, Minnesota. Students and instructors also meet local residents to learn how they are living the answers to life's important questions and creating lives worth living.​

For more information, contact Professor Roy T Cook in the Philosophy Department at 612-625-8379, or send us a message. Also, for more stories, photos, videos, and updates, visit our Facebook page!