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Environmental Literature Institute at Exeter

June 23-28, 2019

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 4th annual Environmental Literature Institute at Exeter!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I invite you to join us for the fourth annual Environmental Literature Institute at Phillips Exeter Academy. ELI is a transformative experience that will expand your thinking about environmental education and revitalize your work with students and colleagues. This week-long teacher training institute aims to cultivate a community of educators interested in environmentally-focused teaching and learning. Throughout the week, we will emphasize how the methods and approaches of disciplines in the humanities, including English, Language Arts, Foreign Language Study, History, and Philosophy, can enhance environmental learning. The various workshops, speakers, and events will offer rich ideas for teachers in all disciplines, including the natural and social sciences.

I’m pleased to announce that ELI 2019 will feature a Keynote Address by prolific environmental writer Alison Hawthorne Deming. Dr. Rochelle Johnson (Keene State College), Dr. Stephen Siperstein (Choate Rosemary Hall), and I will co-lead ELI this summer, and we will be joined by Master Teacher in Residence Dr. Annie Merrill (Davidson College).

I hope you will consider joining us for your professional development work this summer. I can say without hesitation that working with this community of teachers has been the highlight of my professional career. The work this community is doing in the realm of environmental education feels important, deep, and relevant--now more than ever, especially in light of the recent IPCC and WWF reports this fall. For many of our leaders and participants, ELI has become an intellectual home. We hope it will become yours.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or cell. In the meantime, for a detailed glimpse of what we’ve been up to the past three summers, please see Michael Brosnan’s blog piece about ELI 2017 and our ALSE news pieces from ELI 2018, ELI 2017, and ELI 2016. Additionally, participant feedback from ELI 2016, 2017, and 2018 will help provide a sense of what the program has been like for the attending teachers.


Sincerely, Jason BreMiller, ELI Director


(845) 705-4453


2019 Leadership Team

Alison Hawthorne Deming, author, ELI Keynote Speaker

Jason BreMiller, ELI Director, Phillips Exeter Academy

Dr. Mark Long, ELI Co-Leader, Keene State College

Dr. Stephen Siperstein, ELI Co-Leader, Choate Rosemary Hall  

Dr. Rochelle Johnson, ELI Master Teacher in Residence, College of Idaho

Dr. Annie Merrill, ELI Master Teacher in Residence, Davidson College

More About ELI

The institute will offer resources to help participants develop their courses as well as networking tools to foster professional development. Our vision is for you to experience the conversations, workshops, and field experiences needed to nourish your teaching. If you are looking to build a new course from the ground up; if you are interested in refining curriculum for an existing course; or if you’ve ever craved the opportunity to connect with other teachers who care deeply about environmental education, then ELI is for you.

Who Can Attend?

ELI is open to any middle, secondary, or post-secondary educator. While ELI signals an English-specific approach, it is a professional development experience inclusive of all educational contexts, forms, and disciplines. In the past, we have welcomed teachers from English, Science, Art, Foreign Language, and History Departments. We also welcome Administrators, Sustainability Coordinators, and Outdoor Educators. We believe the experience is enriched by these multi-disciplinary encounters. In order to enhance cross-disciplinary and intra-institutional dialogue, some schools have elected to send multiple colleagues from the same school, including colleagues from various departments. Courses represented by ELI attendees have included:

  • Traditional Literature, Art, Writing, History, and Science courses
  • Collaborative and Interdisciplinary courses
  • Experiential Place-based courses
  • Project-Based, Design Thinking, or Applied Learning courses
  • Service Learning courses
  • Field-based courses

Institute 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 schedule for the week will include the following:

Harkness Conversations: A formal introduction to Harkness pedagogy will frame our time together and inform our approach to group conversations throughout the week. You will leave with a fundamental understanding of Harkness methodology and significant practice time. You will also have access to Exeter Harkness resources and the chance for follow-up conversation if you would like to learn more.

Keynote Address: Alison Hawthorne Deming will give this year’s Keynote Address on Monday evening and will lead a workshop on Tuesday morning.

Explorations: 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 trips. Past trips have included explorations to: a local biodynamic farm; Hampton Beach; campus Sustainability Tour; Packer’s Falls; team building at a high ropes course.

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 or curriculum projects. This time will afford you the flexibility to engage individually with conference leaders, to leverage the diverse expertises of other Institute attendees, and to engage with your colleagues in 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: Alison Hawthorne Deming, Dr. Rochelle Johnson, Dr. Annie Merrill, Dr. Stephen Siperstein, and Jason BreMiller. Past sessions have included:

Clare Walker Leslie’s, Drawing for Observation

Scott Russell Sanders, Taking Care of Home: Sustainability on a Finite Planet

John Elder and Scott Russell Sanders’, Teaching Frost in Place

Stephen Siperstein’s, Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities AND Envisioning Eco-Futures: Teaching Cli-Fi and the Environmental Humanities

Patrick Thomas’ introduction to environmental publishing

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s, The Honorable Harvest AND Reading the Landscape

Rochelle Johnson’s, Making your Place your Pedagogy AND Thoreau’s Place in Environmental Literature

Annie Merrill’s, Environmental Justice AND Natural History

Laird Christensen’s, Placemaking

Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder’s, Multi-Genre Nature Writing

Linda Hogan’s, Writing in the Field

Take home Texts: We will assemble for you a collection of books written by members of ELI’s leadership team or provided by our sponsors. Examples include, Mark Long’s, Teaching North American Environmental Literature and Stephen Siperstein’s, Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities.

Informal Social Gatherings: Perhaps ELI’s greatest boon, you will participate in both ELI and conference-wide social gatherings that will provide significant networking and community-building opportunities.

Our Sponsors

ELI is fortunate to have the support of ASLE (The Association of Literature and the Environment), ORION Magazine, Milkweed EditionsThe Hopper, and Allagash Brewing Company 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

Copy of The Hopper magazine

Selected texts from Milkweed Editions

Previous selections have included Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, Gary Paul Nabhan’s Cross-Pollinations, Amy Leach’s Things That Are; Drew Lanham’s The Home Place.

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 and during past Institutes
  • 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, Stephen Siperstein, Rochelle Johnson, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Annie Merrill
  • Networking conversations with other environmentally-minded teachers and professionals
  • The chance to share your own work and experience in the field
  • Introduction to Exeter’s extensive trail network and environmental-related resources
  • Participation in Harkness discussions of core environmental topics.

Past Sending Schools

Middle Schools

  • Cambridge Montessori School, MA
  • Harpeth Hall, TN
  • Howitt Middle School, NY
  • Saco Middle School, ME
  • Shore Country Day, MA
  • The Westminster Schools, GA

Secondary Schools

  • The Athenian School, Danville, CA
  • Belmont Hill School, Belmont, MA
  • The Branson School, Ross, CA
  • Burr and Burton Mountain Campus, VT
  • Chapel Hill Chauncy Hall School, MA
  • Deerfield Academy, MA
  • Dublin School, NH
  • Exeter High School, Exeter, NH
  • Heronfield Academy, NH
  • Iolani School, Honolulu, HI
  • Loomis Chaffee, CT
  • Millbrook School, Millbrook, NY
  • Morristown Beard School, NJ
  • Morrison R. Waite High School, NJ
  • New Mexico School for the Arts, Sante Fe, NM
  • National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), WY
  • Northfield Mount Hermon, Mount Hermon, MA
  • The Pennington School, NJ
  • Pingree School, South Hamilton MA
  • Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
  • San Francisco University High School, CA
  • Sky Valley Education Center, WA
  • Swiss Semester, Switzerland
  • Tower Hill School, DE
  • Union-Endicott High School, NY
  • University School of Milwaukee, WI
  • Vail Mountain School, Vail, CO
  • Vermont Commons School, South Burlington, VT
  • Webb Schools, CA
  • Worcester Academy, Worcester, MA
  • The York School, Toronto, Canada


  • Colby-Sawyer College
  • Exeter College, UK
  • Graceland University, IA
  • Penn State Wilkes-Barre
  • University of Oregon, OR

Past Leadership Teams

Past ELI Keynote Speakers

  • Linda Hogan, author and scholar (2018)
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer, Keynote Address, SUNY ESF (2017)
  • Scott Russell Sanders, Author Teacher
  • John Elder, Author, Teacher

Past Master Teachers in Residence

  • Mark Long, ELI Co-Leader and Master Teacher in Residence, Keene State College (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Rochelle Johnson, ELI Master Teacher in Residence, College of Idaho (2017)
  • Clare Walker Leslie, ELI Master Artist and Workshop Leader (2016, 2017)
  • Laird Christensen, ELI Master Teacher in Residence, Green Mountain College (2018)
  • Annie Merrill, ELI Master Teacher in Residence, Davidson College (2018)

Other Past Workshop Leaders

  • Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder, Writer
  • Sophie Robinson, Filmmaker/Climate Activist
  • Jennifer Pharr Davis, Author, Adventurer
  • 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