CULTIVATING MEANING & PURPOSE
Gap Semesters ~ Fellowships ~ Short Courses
Thoreau College offers intimate and affordable place-based gap year programs, short courses, and fellowships for young adults in beautiful rural southwestern Wisconsin. Our programs immerse students in authentic community, practical labor and homesteading skills, and deep engagement with the natural world and great works of human culture.
Fall Gap Semester
Join an intimate community of peers and mentors for a 4-month journey of metamorphosis, exploring place, purpose, and belonging through rigorous reading and academic discussion, hands-on farming and homesteading, folk crafts and fine arts, wilderness expeditions and solos, and shared community life.
Summer Field School
The Summer Field School offers a 4-week immersion into the ecology, culture, and agriculture of rural southwestern Wisconsin in May and June, one of the most dynamic times of the natural year. Activities include farm visits, hands on gardening and foraging, folk arts, and more.
The Green Heart of the Midwest
Thoreau College is rooted in the vibrant rural community of Viroqua, Wisconsin, in the heart of the Driftless Region, a scenic unglaciated landscape of ridges and valleys traversed by countless small streams and dotted with organic farms and small towns. Viroqua and the Driftless Region is our campus and our home.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Rooted in the ridges and valleys of the Driftless Region of the upper Midwest, Thoreau College models a transformative liberal arts curriculum that immerses students in authentic community, shared labor and governance, and rigorous engagement with great works and natural phenomena. Thoreau College creates a context where students can nurture their sacred curiosity, connect with their deepest selves, and cultivate the capacities they will need to manifest their highest aspirations for the world.
Thoreau College understands liberal arts education to be fundamentally concerned with the cultivation of free human beings who have the capacity to impart direction and meaning to their lives and bring about positive transformation in the world. In our striving to realize an education that meets the needs of the whole human being–body, soul and spirit–we have been deeply informed by the lives and work of Henry David Thoreau (author of Walden), Rudolf Steiner (founder of Waldorf education), and LL Nunn (founder of Deep Springs College.
THOREAU COLLEGE BLOG
By Jacob Rowland, 2020 Fall Semester Program Thoreau College is a singular place, and perhaps a hard place to understand. The applicant process is, in a way, opposite to the ordinary college search process: most colleges have extensive websites, virtual tours, and brochures to appeal to...
Nanami Nishiyama came from Japan to participate in the 2023 Thoreau College Spring Semester Program. Photography by Leeza Gavronsky, Jacob Hundt, and Nanami Nishiyama “What is the rich life for me?”: Finding a compass for my life at Thoreau College Why did I come to Thoreau College? Frankly...
Amongst the myriad of activities which Thoreau College is engaged in at any given time, the last 7 months of college life have certainly seen an uptick in instances of theater-making. The first ever Viroqua Shakespeare Festival took place last October when the Thoreau campus opened up to just...