The Thoreau College Metamorphosis Year is a full-time program for young adults seeking to challenge and develop themselves across all dimensions of their humanity.  Inspired by the archetypal transformation of the caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, the Metamorphosis Year engages participants in an immersive shared journey of discovery and growth through the seasons in the context of small self-governing community of peers and mentors, leading to new levels of self-knowledge and understandings of personal life purpose.  The Metamorphosis Year is intended as an alchemical path of initiation and participants should expect that their perspectives on many things to be quite different at the end of this adventure.

As members of an intimate cohort of 10-12 students living, working, and studying together in Viroqua, Wisconsin from August through June, Metamorphosis Year participants engage in a broad program organized around five curricular pillars:

1. Academics:  Through reading and discussions of key texts and ideas drawn from world literature and philosophy, contemporary thinkers, and ancient wisdom traditions from many cultures, as well as experiential studies of plants, animals, landscapes, and natural phenomena, students explore key questions about the relationships between human beings and the natural world, between the individual and the community, and spirituality and science.  These academic courses are led by Thoreau College core Faculty, as well as guest instructors and are dedicated to profound, respectful, and open conversations about truth, beauty, and goodness and about our role as human seekers in a cosmos of other human and non-human beings.

2. Labor: During the course of each week, students learn and practice a wide variety of practical skills related to living a meaningful and self-sufficient life in the context of our small community.  Labor activities include cooking and food preservation, gardening, livestock husbandry, and greenhouse work, building maintenance, cleaning, and carpentry,  and service work in the wider community, as well as administrative tasks supporting the life of the college.

3. Community: Thoreau College is not simply an academic institution – it is also a self-governing and mutually supportive multi-generational learning community.  From the beginning of the year, all students participate in weekly governance meeting of the student body and all students serve alongside staff and other community members on a number of governance circles managing all aspects of the organization, including curriculum and program design, fundraising and promotion, recruitment and admissions, development of Thoreau College enterprises, and the daily logistics of food, facilities, transportation, and scheduling.

4. Art: Throughout the year, students participate in a wide variety of fine arts workshops focused on creative writing, singing, theater, and speech, visual arts, and folk arts such as carving, fiber arts, basketry, and more.  In addition to core arts activities, students have the option of participating in community workshops offered through the Driftless Folk School in folk arts, homesteading skills, and wilderness skills.

5. Nature: Individual and group immersions in nature are a core part of the Metamorphosis Year and include four week-long group wilderness expeditions across the changing seasons, as well as solo experiences ranging from 24 to 48 hours.  Skills in canoeing, hiking, shelter building, fire building, teamwork, wilderness safely and survival are all cultivated through these profoundly transformative expeditionary learning activities.