MICROCOLLEGE: The Thoreau College Podcast

by Thoreau College

MICROCOLLEGE is an exploration of the crisis in higher education and the innovative projects and thinkers working to address it, with a special focus on the human-scaled, place-based, meaning-oriented learning communities we call "microcolleges." The podcast is hosted by Jacob Hundt, Founder of Thoreau College, a microcollege initiative rooted in the Driftless Region of rural southwestern Wisconsin, and inspired by the model o ...   ...  Read more

Podcast episodes

  • Episode #57: Dr. Dan McKanan: Camphills, Intentional Communities, and the Spiritual Roots of Radical Change

    Episode #57: Dr. Dan McKanan: Camphills, Intentional Communities, and the Spiritual Roots of Radical Change

    This week's guest on the Microcollege podcast is Dr. Dan McKanan, a professor at the Harvard Divinity School who is one of the foremost American scholars of biodynamic agriculture and the Camphill communities, two influential movements applying the ideas of Rudolf Steiner in practical fields. In our conversation, we learn about Dan's own formative experiences in intentional communities with spiritual roots and a focus on radical social transformation, as well as the ways in which elite universities like Harvard sometimes fail to live up to their calling to help young people find their way to lives of service. Dan serves as the Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Senior Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School, where he has taught since 2008. He studies religious and spiritual movements for social transformation in the United States and beyond, with particular emphasis on environmental activism, intentional communities, and socialism. Much of his research focuses on the Unitarian Universalist tradition and the anthroposophical movement. He is the author of six books, among them Camphill and the Future: Spirituality and Disability in an Evolving Communal Movement, Eco-Alchemy: Anthroposophy and the History and Future of Environmentalism, and Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition. Earlier works explored the Catholic Worker movement and nonviolent activism in the early nineteenth century. Links: Dr. Dan McKanan: https://hds.harvard.edu/people/dan-mckanan Camphill and the Future: https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520344082/camphill-and-the-future Eco-Alchemy: Anthroposophy and the History and Future of Environmentalism: https://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520290068 Thoreau College: www.thoreaucollege.org

  • Episode #56: Dr. Richard Kyte - Finding Your Third Place

    Episode #56: Dr. Richard Kyte - Finding Your Third Place

    On today's episode we discuss the concept of "third places" with Dr. Richard Kyte, author of the forthcoming book Finding Your Third Place: Building Happier Communities (and Making Great Friends Along the Way). What is a "third place"? According to Dr. Kyte: "Your first place is home, your second place is work, and your third place is where you go to socialize. As more of our lives are spent online and in digital spaces, these often overlooked "Third Places" play a crucial role in keeping our communities vibrant." Join me for a fascinating conversation with a longtime leader in higher education and civic life here in western Wisconsin for a discussion of why third places are important, how they have become harder to find, and how to remedy this in our lives and communities. We also discuss the state of liberal arts education, the ways in which college campus can facilitate vibrant community life among students, and what role microcolleges might play in all of this. Dr. Richard Kyte - A native of northern Minnesota, Rick Kyte is the Endowed Professor and Director of the D. B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin where he teaches a variety of courses in ethics dealing with issues in business, leadership, and the environment. He received his undergraduate degree from Hamline University and his Ph.D. in philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University in 1994. He writes a regular column for Lee Newspapers titled “The Ethical Life.” He serves on the board of the La Crosse Community Foundation and LeaderEthics-Wisconsin. Links: Dr. Kyte's Website: https://www.richardkyte.net/ Finding Your Third Place: https://www.fulcrumbooks.com/product-page/finding-your-third-place The D. B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership: https://www.viterbo.edu/db-reinhart-institute-ethics-leadership Thoreau College: https://thoreaucollege.org/ Driftless Folk School: https://www.driftlessfolkschool.org/ The Microcollege Network: https://www.hylo.com/groups/microcollege-network

  • Episode #55: Eric Schwarz - College for Social Innovation, Boston, MA

    Episode #55: Eric Schwarz - College for Social Innovation, Boston, MA

    In this episode of the Microcollege podcast, join me for a fascinating conversation with Eric Schwarz, Co-Founder and CEO of the College for Social Innovation (CFSI), which offers semester-long immersive service learning internships in partnership with community organizations in the Boston area, as well as on college campuses throughout the northeast and midwestern United States. CFSI participants are primarily current college students who receive a semester of college credit from one of several partner universities, while living with other CFSI students and participating in supportive workshops and courses. This year, CFSI is also launching a version of their programming for gap year students. An experienced social entrepreneur, Eric is the Co-Founder and CEO of the College for Social Innovation (CFSI), which seeks to "educate and inspire the next generation of problem solvers for humanity's tough challenges.” CFSI seeks to build a bigger, better prepared, and more diverse talent pipeline for the social impact sector through its flagship Semester in the City experiential learning program in Boston and a new national Semester for Impact program launched in 2023. Eric is also Co-Founder and former CEO of Citizen Schools, an apprenticeship-based model for out of school time learning, which has had a positive impact on the after-school and extended learning time fields across the U.S. Prior to starting Citizen Schools in 1995, Eric served as vice president of City Year, the national service program, and as a journalist at The Oakland Tribune and The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA) where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Eric is a member of the board of Citizen Schools, College for Social Innovation, and Crimson Goes Blue. He is a past board member of First Night, The Breakthrough Collaborative, Do Something, Beyond12, the Harvard Outward Bound Project, and past chair of the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation and of Citizen Schools. Eric is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, The Opportunity Equation, the co-editor of The Case For 21st Century Learning, and the author of numerous articles and book chapters, including “Calling All Citizens” in The New York Times best-selling Waiting For Superman. Eric graduated from the University of Vermont (B.A.) in 1983 and from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (M. Ed) in 1997. He lives in Brookline, MA with his wife and two children. College for Social Innovation: https://collegeforsocialinnovation.org/ CFSI Gap Semester: https://collegeforsocialinnovation.org/gap-semester Citizen Schools: https://www.citizenschools.org/ Thoreau College: https://thoreaucollege.org/ Driftless Folk School: https://www.driftlessfolkschool.org/ The Microcollege Network: https://www.hylo.com/groups/microcollege-network

  • Episode #54: Andrea de la Cruz, Nathaniel Williams - The Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland

    Episode #54: Andrea de la Cruz, Nathaniel Williams - The Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland

    Today's guests are Andrea de la Cruz and Nathaniel Williams, leaders in the area of educational courses and the youth movement at the Goetheanum, located in Dornach, Switzerland. The Goetheanum is a remarkable building, a masterpiece of modern architecture nestled in the green foothills near Basel. It is also an organization that lies at the heart of anthroposophy, the spiritual and cultural movement flowing from the life and work of Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf schools. As such, the Goetheanum is home to a variety of artistic, scholarly, and social activities, as well as educational programs for youth and adults of all ages. In this episode, Andrea and Nathaniel share their own stories and describe the remarkable international community that gathers in Dornach for these programs, as well as how the anthroposophical youth movement manifests elsewhere in Europe and around the world. Andrea de la Cruz - Born in 1989 in Madrid, Spain, Andrea has been working with young people and in adult education in international settings since 2011. She coordinates the Studies & Further Education Department of the General Anthroposophical Section at the Goetheanum, Switzerland, where she develops educational activities on basic Anthroposophy together with the faculty team. In 2015 she took part in the Goetheanum’s Anthroposophical Studies as a student, which marked a turning point in her life as she encountered the works of Rudolf Steiner. She then joined the Youth Section and worked as a youth researcher and facilitator of informal/experiential learning programmes from 2017-2022. Andrea holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Community Theatre, and Drama and Theatre Arts from Edinburgh and London, has a Waldorf Teacher Certification and is currently completing her MA in Pedagogical Innovation. Nathaniel WIlliams - Originally from the state of Alabama, Nathaniel has served as the leader of the Youth Section of the Goethenum since 2023. Prior to this role, he was the co-founder of Free Columbia with Laura Summer in upstate New York, which included a microcollege initiative known as the MC Richards Program. He studied visual art and marionette theatre in Basel, Switzerland, graduating with a certificate in visual art from the neueKUNSTschule in 2002. He also received a PhD in Political Theory from the University of Albany. Links: The Youth Section of the Goetheanum: https://youthsection.org/en Goetheanum Studium: https://studium.goetheanum.ch/en Thoreau College: https://thoreaucollege.org/ Driftless Folk School: https://www.driftlessfolkschool.org/ The Microcollege Network: https://www.hylo.com/groups/microcollege-network

  • Episode #53: Blake Boles - Unschool Adventures

    Episode #53: Blake Boles - Unschool Adventures

    Blake Boles is one of the leading voices in the world of unschooling and a passionate advocate for alternative approaches to education of all kinds. He is the founder and director of Unschool Adventures, a travel program for self-directed learners, and is the author of Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids to School?, The Art of Self-Directed Learning, Better Than College, and College Without High School. Blake and his work have appeared on The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, BBC Travel, Psychology Today, Fox Business, TEDx, The Huffington Post, USA Today, NPR, and the blogs of Wired and The Wall Street Journal. In 2003 Blake was studying astrophysics at UC Berkeley when he stumbled upon the works of John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, and other alternative education pioneers. Deeply inspired by the philosophy of unschooling, Blake custom-designed his final two years of college to focus exclusively on education theory. After graduating he joined the Not Back to School Camp community and began writing and speaking widely on the subject of self-directed learning. In his previous lives, Blake worked as a high-volume cook, delivery truck driver, summer camp director, Aurora Borealis research assistant, math tutor, outdoor science teacher, camp medic, ski resort market researcher, web designer, and windsurfing instructor. His biggest passion is sharing his enthusiasm and experience with young adults who are blazing their own trails through life. He was born in 1982. Blake's Website: https://www.blakeboles.com/ Unschool Adventures: https://www.unschooladventures.com/ Not Back to School Camp: https://www.nbtsc.org/ Thoreau College: www.thoreaucollege.org Driftless Folk School: www.driftlessfolkschool.org