Xavier Magazine

Into the Wild

A program started by visiting theology professor and alum Leon Chartrand gives a whole new meaning to the idea of the outdoor classroom. Xavier Expeditions offers courses that include trips to cool places such as Yellowstone Park and the Sawtooth Wilderness in Alaska. This year, Chartrand added a trip to the American Southwest. For one week over spring break, students enrolled in Sacred Ground & the New Story: Navajo Lands explored nature and Navajo spiritual concepts, like “walking in beauty.” They did hands-on learning in the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert of the ancient Southwest and the Navajo and Hopi nations. Students are encouraged to draw from Native American cultures, the Judeo-Christian and other religious traditions, and from the knowledge of evolution to rediscover the earth. Chartrand hopes his students learn to see the earth as a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects, and how to tackle human-earth relations. Chartrand invites students to suggest favorite locations for future trips. Some of his favorites? The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Galapagos Islands and the Serengeti.

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