Pathfinder Fellows in Environmental Leadership

A First-Year Ampersand Program

The Pathfinder Fellows Program is a four-year, cohort-based undergraduate program providing the academic rigor and field experience needed to deeply understand, respect and respond to a place and its people in light of environmental challenges. Integrated around the rich themes of environmental studies, including environmental science, policy, humanities and sustainability, the program welcomes students from all four undergraduate schools to create a yearly cohort of 12 to 16 students.

The program provides students with expertise in sustainable and critical thinking at scales from individual sites to neighborhoods, landscapes, nations, and the globe. Program activities consist of shared coursework, field trips, community-engagement opportunities such as internships and research, and experiences in urban and rural environments. Taken together, these components provide interdisciplinary training for our students to emerge as leaders in their respective fields.

Program costs for the first year are covered, though for a sophomore-year trip to Madagascar students will be charged approximately $3,500 (need-based financial assistance is available).

Explore the Pathfinder course sequence

Pathfinder Fellows engage as a cohort in a rich variety of learning experiences – both in and out of the classroom, from local to global scales – over their four years in the program.

Explore courses

People who have never canoed a wild river, or who have done so only with a guide in the stern, are apt to assume that novelty, plus a healthful exercise, account for the value of the trip. I thought so too, until I met the two college boys on the Flambeau…Spying us, they edged in to pass the time of day.

‘What time is it?’ was their first question. They explained that their watches had run down, and for the first time in their lives there was no clock, whistle, or radio to set watches by. For two days they had lived by ‘sun-time,’ and were getting a thrill out of it. No servant brought them meals: they got their meat out of the river, or went without. No traffic cop whistled them off the hidden rock in the next rapids. No friendly roof kept them dry when they mis-guessed whether or not to pitch the tent. No guide showed them which camping spots offered a nightlong breeze, and which a nightlong misery of mosquitoes; which firewood made clean coals, and which only smoke…The elemental simplicities of wilderness travel were thrills not only because of their novelty, but because they represented complete freedom to make mistakes. The wilderness gave them their first taste of those rewards and penalties for wise and foolish acts which every woodsman faces daily, but against which civilization has built a thousand buffers.

– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Apply to the Pathfinder Fellows program

To learn more and apply to the Pathfinder Fellows program, contact director David Fike.

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