Experiential Learning Trips

The experiential trips and programs of The Woolman Semester School are crucial to the transformative learning that occurs while students are with us. Woolman students are expected to challenge themselves and what they are learning by applying it to the “real world." By seeing examples of other people living out what they have been reading and writing about in class, students come back from trips inspired and equipped to put their learning into action at Woolman and beyond. Because we keep our curriculum responsive to the larger community in which we live, the trips offered each semester may vary while the underlying themes and principals remain the same.


The Wilderness Trip

This weeklong adventure is an opportunity to explore interdisciplinary connections, develop wilderness living skills, and increase self-awareness through group living, solo time and connection with the natural world. Students learn about the ecology and history of our area while backpacking along the Yuba River. Located in Woolman's "backyard," this Wild and Scenic river is the perfect setting for discussing writers such as Gary Snyder, Edward Abbey, and Henry David Thoreau that use wilderness as an entry point to talking about democracy and America's values. The solo time on the trip is also a first for many students, and provides a kick-start to the intense personal growth and self-awareness that occurs during the semester. For fall semester students, the Wilderness Trip is part of orientation in the beginning of the semester. Group buliding activities and swimming make up integral parts of the week. In the spring semester, we wait until the last week before graduation when the weather is better. The Wilderness Trip serves as our closing retreat filled with reminiscing and activities to help students prepare for their transition away from Woolman.


Food Intensive

Each semester we embark on a week-long trip exploring aspects of the local and national food systems. We visit organizations involved with food production, distribution, and education. While traveling through the Central Valley of California and the San Francisco Bay Area we meet with farmers, researchers, educators, wholesale distributors and food justice advocates; visiting their sites and learning about their role in the food system.

Recent Visits have included:

Full Belly FarmPie RanchSwanton Berry FarmUC Davis Student FarmPeople's GroceryOccidental Arts and Ecology CenterVandana Shiva at the First National Heirloom ExpositionUC Davis Seed Biotechnology CenterUC Davis Beef Feed Lot, Hayward Community Garden, John Muir Elementary School Garden Berkeley, and Veritable Vegetable.


Radical Learning for Change Trip

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered." --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967


The Radical Learning for Change Trip puts the theories that we explore in Peace Studies and Global Thinking classes into practice in the Bay Area. Oakland and San Francisco are a mecca of terrific organizations and visionaries working for a more just and sustainable future. Much of the week will be spent in interactive workshops with leading activists, using internationally acclaimed methodology for helping us to question the status quo of systems and structures that govern our society and to get in touch with our own individual roles as agents of change. Being an activist means something different to each of us and the hope is that through experiencing and being introduced to a range of activism approaches and alternative systems, we will be able to see how we might each use what makes us happy in life to make the world a better place!