Environmental Literature Institute at Exeter

June 24-29, 2018

The most intellectually and personally fulfilling professional development experience I've ever had … ELI gave me theoretical grounding and practical methods for updating my curriculum, and the sense of community to do so with energy and hope."
ELI Participant, Atlanta, GA

Join us for the 2nd annual Environmental Literature Institute at Exeter!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We invite you to be part of the second annual Environmental Literature Institute (ELI) at Phillips Exeter. A transformative experience, ELI will expand your thinking and revitalize your work with students and colleagues.

ELI 2017 will be co-led by Master Teacher in Residence Mark C. Long, from Keene State College and Stephen Siperstein, from Choate Rosemary Hall. Our workshop leaders are Master Teacher in Residence Rochelle Johnson, from the College of Idaho; Sasha Matthewman, Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Auckland; Master Artist Clare Walker Leslie; and Managing Editor of Milkweed Editions, Patrick Thomas.

This summer’s Institute will feature a keynote address by Robin Wall Kimmerer, author and Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The venue for the Keynote Address, ALNOBA, is a local environmental learning facility that features net-zero GOLogic architecture and site work by John Lopez and Andy Goldsworthy.

To learn more about ELI you can read a synopsis of the week on the web site of one of our co-sponsors, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment.  A sample of the 2016 ELI Participant Feedback will also help you gather more details about the week.

We hope you will consider joining us for your professional development work this summer. Information about Tuition Scholarships for participants is available on this web site. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jason via email or cell.


Sincerely, the ELI Leadership Team

Jason BreMiller, ELI Director, Phillips Exeter Academy
Mark Long, ELI Co-Leader and Master Teacher in Residence, Keene State College
Stephen Siperstein, ELI Co-Leader, Choate Rosemary Hall
Rochelle Johnson, ELI Master Teacher in Residence, College of Idaho
Clare Walker Leslie, ELI Master Artist and Workshop Leader
Sasha Matthewman, ELI Master Teacher in Residence, University of Aukland, New Zealand
Patrick Thomas, Visiting Workshop Leader, Milkweed Editions
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Keynote Address, SUNY ESF

About ELI

This week-long conference, in collaboration with our sponsors at The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE), ORION, and Milkweed Editions, is designed to establish a community of teachers working in the environmental humanities. The institute will offer exposure to ideas and materials to help participants build and refine their courses—and networking tools that will foster professional development in the field. Our vision is for you to experience the conversations, workshops, and field experiences needed to create and refine your course and the resources that support it.  If you are looking to build a new course from the ground up; if you’ve ever craved the opportunity to connect with other teachers of environmental humanities courses; or if you are interested in refining curriculum for an existing course, then ELI is for you.

ELI Structure

In order to optimize contact time with Institute Leaders and to nurture a creative, idea-inspiring climate, the number of institute participants will be limited to 30. The daily schedule will include the following:


Keynote Address: Robin Wall Kimmerer will give this year’s Keynote Address.

Explorations: New to ELI 2017, ELI Explorations are designed to help you connect with the local area, to place you in your students’ shoes as learners, and to model the sorts of field trips possible in your own courses. You will be able to CHOOSE from a handful of local field trip options, including an encounter with Brad and Amy Robinson’s local apiary and biodynamic farm; a trip to Rye Beach; participation in a local environmental service project; a campus sustainability tour; and, possibly, an overnight camping excursion. 

Cross Pollinations: Taking Gary Paul Nabhan’s idea of “cross pollination” as our cue, we will devote a portion of each day to collaborating together on individual course projects. This time will afford you the flexibility to engage individually with conference leaders, to leverage the disparate expertise of other Institute attendees, and to generally engage with your colleagues the creative joys of course building and planning.

Presentations and Workshops: You will have the opportunity to CHOOSE from an array of workshops facilitated by members of the ELI leadership team. Last year’s sessions included Clare Walker Leslie’s presentation on field drawing as a conduit to teaching observation skills; John Elder’s field session on Teaching Robert Frost in place; Stephen Siperstein’s Climate Change Pedagogy presentation; and Patrick Thomas’ workshop on the environmental publishing world. 2017 Workshops will be announced later this winter.

Harkness Conversations: A formal introduction to Harkness pedagogy will inform our approach to group conversations.

Texts: We will assemble for you a collection of books written by members of ELI’s leadership team.

Morning Activities: You will have the opportunity to participate in optional morning physical or reflective activities such as hiking, yoga, mountain biking, paddling, and more.

Informal Social Gatherings: You will participate in both ELI and conference-wide social gatherings that will provide significant networking opportunities.

Who Can Attend?

ELI is open to any middle, secondary, or post-secondary environmental humanities teacher, including (but not limited to) teachers of the following course types:

●     Traditional Literature, Art, Writing, History, and Science courses

●     Collaborative and Interdisciplinary courses

●     Experiential Place-based courses

●     Project-Based or Applied Learning courses

●     Service Learning courses

●     Field-based courses

While ELI is a title that signals an English-specific approach, this is a professional development experience that is inclusive of all forms, including teachers from other disciplines. In addition to English teachers, we have welcomed teachers from Science, Art, and History Departments. We believe the discourse is enriched by these cross-disciplinary encounters. In order to enhance cross-disciplinary dialogue, some schools have elected to send multiple colleagues from the same school, including colleagues from various departments.

Our Sponsors

ELI is fortunate to have the support of ASLE (The Association of Literature and the Environment), ORION Magazine, and Milkweed Editions. In addition to the standard items covered in the registration fee (see General Information), ELI participants will enjoy the following items to enhance their immersion in the environmental humanities:

Two-Year ASLE Membership that includes:

  • Access to the online ASLE Member Community, where you can join existing discussion groups, establish new groups, begin or respond to topical threads, or search for member interests and expertise using the ASLE Member Directory
  • Four issues per year of ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment) Journal
  • E-updates on the latest news published at our website
  • Conference, grant, and publication award opportunities
  • Discount on new or renewed subscriptions to ORION Magazine
  • Discount on titles from Ashgate Publishers
  • A copy of Teaching North American Environmental Literature

One-year membership to ORION magazine that includes:

  • ORION Magazine
  • Three texts from ORION’s Nature Literacy Series

Three books from Milkweed Editions

Last year’s selections included Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, Gary Paul Nabhan’s Cross-Pollinations, and Amy Leach’s Things That Are

Institute Takeaways

A sense of community with a group of like-minded teachers

●     An introduction to Harkness pedagogy and its potential contributions to your course

●     Access to ELI resources developed during the week

●     The opportunity to present ELI's work at a biennial ASLE Conference

●     Exposure to off-campus field trips that model the work you might do with your students

●     Opportunities to refine your course curriculum and to receive feedback from Institute Leaders and attendees

●     Collaboration with leaders in the field: Mark Long, Claire Walker Leslie, Stephen Siperstein, Rochelle Johnson, Sasha Matthewman, Robin Wall Kimmerer

●     Networking conversations with other environmental humanities teachers and professionals

●     The chance to share your own work and experience in the field

●     Participation in optional morning activities such as outdoor yoga, mountain biking, or paddling

●     Introduction to Exeter’s extensive trail network and environmental-related resources

●     Participation in Harkness discussions of core environmental humanities topics. Possible discussion topics include

  • teaching environmental writing
  • building and planning excursions
  • deriving curriculum from place
  • what to read? EH texts and canon
  • administrative voices: creative solutions to logistical constraints
  • risk management
  • pedagogical resources for the environmental humanities
  • interdisciplinary connections and place-based curriculum
  • crafting effective assignments and projects
  • nature journaling as a classroom tool

Past Sending Schools

Middle Schools

  • Shore Country Day, MA
  • The Westminster Schools, GA
  • Harpeth Hall, TN

Secondary Schools

  • The Athenian School, Danville, CA
  • Belmont Hill School, Belmont, MA
  • The Branson School, Ross, CA
  • Burr and Burton Academy, Mountain Campus VT
  • Exeter High School, Exeter, NH
  • Iolani School, Honolulu, HI
  • Loomis Chaffee CT
  • Millbrook School, Millbrook, NY
  • New Mexico School for the Arts, Sante Fe, NM
  • Northfield Mount Hermon, Mount Hermon, MA
  • Pingree School, South Hamilton MA
  • Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
  • Union-Endicott High School, NY
  • Vail Mountain School, Vail, CO
  • Vermont Commons School, South Burlington, VT
  • Worcester Academy, Worcester, MA
  • The York School, Toronto, Canada


  • Colby-Sawyer College
  • Penn State Wilkes-Barre

Past Leadership Teams

2016 Leadership Team

  • Jason BreMiller, Teacher, Phillips Exeter Academy
  • Jennifer Pharr Davis, Author, Adventurer
  • John Elder, Author, Teacher
  • Clare Walker Leslie, Author, Artist
  • Mark Long, Author, Teacher, Past President ASLE
  • Scott Russell Sanders, Author Teacher
  • Patrick Thomas, Managing Director, Milkweed Editions

Contact Us

Jason BreMiller, Director

Rachel Hanson, Conference Manager

Mailing Address
Phillips Exeter Academy
20 Main Street
Exeter, NH 03833