The Program

The following programs are not actual degree programs, merely possibilities for what programs could look like the model we are proposing.

For all students of the Saxifrage School, the academic program will include work in one Major Skill and one Major Study. Students will gain learn to make and design things and judge and communicate ideas. In the Major Skill program, students will work to gain mastery of a technical skill set; in the Major Study students will undertake a broad interdisciplinary study that informs and contextualizes their skill-work and trains them to be critical thinkers, creative producers, and capable leaders.

Additionally, all students will take part in the all-school Spanish Language program.

I. Major Skills

Organic Agriculture
This program is designed to prepare students to work and manage an organic farm. Courses may include study and practice in soil science, plant physiology, aquaculture, poultry management, small livestock management, arboreal studies, small and large-scale composting, organic integrated pest management, agricultural philosophy, organic farm technologies, seed production, permaculture, agricultural history, agricultural economics, food politics, farm finance, development, and marketing. Students in this program could be actively involved in the production of organic food for the benefit of the community.

Building Construction and Design
Combining hands-on experience in construction with teaching in architecture and design theories, students will learn the whole range of skills necessary for small building construction and renovation. This program’s courses may include subject matter in: small house design/build, natural building, electrical, root cellar design/build, wall systems, wastewater systems, energy efficiency, carpentry, foundations, aesthetic/utility balances; and economic space utilization. These students will take part in numerous construction projects throughout their training, including the building (with a team) of a small residence. Students in this program could assist the college in the construction, maintenance and renovation of both neighborhood and College-owned buildings. This program has taken a lot of inspiration from the folks at the Yestermorrow Design/Build school.

Computer Development
After initial orientation to the program, students will work as amateur developers, designing, prototyping and creating basic computer systems. While emphasis will be placed on gaining certified skill sets and assembling a portfolio of creative work, students will approach their work as a creative cultural process, rather than mere technical construction. This program will be deeply grounded in the humanities: the skill training will focus on learning how to develop computer systems that humanize our interactions.

II. Fields of Study

More than training students to be technically proficient in an art form, this program will focus on the study of beauty, contextual practice, material re-use, and art survival. Students will learn the social purpose of artistic creation and work to integrate their art-practice into other fields of work. Most importantly, they will struggle to create works of art that address real needs or issues in the everyday life of our city.

Rhetoric and Literature
Although we offer some courses in the traditional canon of English Literature, this field will focus more heavily on contemporary literature and communication. The program will place equal value on speaking, writing, and reading well so that students can become skillful in their creation and conveyance of language as well as comprehension and critique. Students will practice both criticism and storytelling so that they can identify problems and creatively explain solutions.

The philosophy program will require students to ask these essential questions: what motivates our work? what is the purpose of this thing? How do we define what is ethical and what is good? What is true, and how do we reconcile conflicting truth statements? What is beautiful? This program will introduce students to the major philosophical discussions of history and connect them to contemporary issues. Specifically, many courses will focus on philosophical issues of food, environment, architecture, computer technology, and built communities.

We will broadly approach the study of Health, recognizing that it, in many ways, is the “One Great Subject”*. With this perspective, students will study psychology, wellness, nutrition, fitness, preventative, and occupational therapy, as well as traditional and alternative medicinal practices. The goal of this program is to give students a holistic understanding of health that is both personal and public. Many courses will focus on issues of health as they relate to our use of computers, the food we produce and consume, and the buildings in which we live and work.

This field of study will challenge students to understand, in broad scope, how the complex systems of this world function and how we organize our societies to make group decisions. They will study and question how governments, economies, corporations and policies interact and shape the way we live and work. Specifically, this field will focus on the importance and practice of local politics as well as the relation of political action to our food, technology, and building cultures.

Our studies in mathematics will range from the beautifully abstract to the practically utilitarian. Courses will serve to motivate and inspire creative work, while also providing necessary data and design to economic, architectural, agricultural, and logical work. Additionally, this program will include a course in micro-finance to prepare students to run households and small corporations.

III. All-School Language Program

As integral to the vision, community and course of study, every student will be required to fully complete a Spanish language program and gain certification of their fluency prior to graduation. Many of the courses for this program (especially those in the lower levels) will be offered in a hybrid format, with much of the coursework taking place in small groups and the others in a more traditional classroom setting with a Professor. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to gain E.S.L. certification in order to teach English to a Spanish-speaking population. Students in this program who have completed their first year are eligible for paid student positions as Advisors for the lower level Spanish small groups.