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Here is what participants in our programs had to say about their experience, our model of place-based learning, and its significance for the future of liberal arts education and civic life.

“The place-based learning was absolutely transformative, stunning, amazing. I really felt like I was learning things about the world that transformed the way I experienced it.”

Gull Island Student '22, anonymous review

“The Gull Island Institute is unlike any other academic institution I’ve been a part of.


My time there and conversations with students, both in the classroom and beyond it, helped me think about how to approach teaching in a way that emphasizes how reading classic texts can be enhanced by attention to urgent contemporary questions and vice versa, and that encourages everyone to show up in the classroom as their full selves.”


Alyssa Battistoni

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Gull Island ‘23 Faculty

“As I was wrapping up my undergraduate education in climate science, I was struggling to make sense of how to practice science in a way that benefits real people


Gull Island's reimagined liberal arts model helped me to bridge humanist and scientific methods. I now look forward to using what I learned on Penikese Island to serve the world through a career of climate research and teaching.”


Candice Chen

Gull Island Student '22 Harvard '22

"Over the past few years, I have been navigating the tension between a career in fundamental scientific research and the urgency of the social and environmental challenges that communities close to me and around the world face.


"Teaching at Gull Island was transformative for me in navigating this tension. Through place-based educational activities, the course brought everyone – students and instructors – into a community that was able to interrogate ideas in a way that was simultaneously creative and grounded, bridging the abstractions of both the sciences and humanities and some of the most pressing civic challenges."

Mara Freilich

Postdoctoral Fellow, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Gull Island '22 Faculty

“The Gull Island Institute revealed to me the power of a comprehensive educational experience.

By working on and studying the land we occupied, I considered questions I never have before about place, human responsibility to the natural world, and labor. I made amazing friends and found myself surrounded by natural beauty that inspired and informed my learning. The whole month was marked by a joyous atmosphere of curiosity.”

Leo Egger Gull Island Student '23, Yale '23

“I feel I learned more, and was prompted to truly think more, in seminar than in 75%+ of the classes I took at Harvard. I learned the importance of relationality in the classroom, and the importance of collective buy-in to our academic goal.”


Gull Island Student '22

anonymous review

“Gull Island offers an incredibly valuable experience not only for students, but also for teachers who can observe, engage, and learn from each other.

I continue to draw on the teaching styles of other faculty I met at Gull Island and am deeply grateful for this completely unique and important pedagogical exchange opportunity.”

Margiana Petersen-Rockney

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Montana, Gull Island ’22 & '23 Faculty

“Though our program lasted only a week, I got to know its students, staff, and faculty in ways impossible at a typical university. I learned not only what my peers and professors believed, but what it means to move through the world as someone who holds those beliefs [...]


Living and working with the people I studied with forced me to take responsibility for my ideas.”

Sam Clark

Gull Island Student '22 Brown '23

“Our seriousness toward the questions we were asking, coupled with the diversity of the texts we read and the unique learning environment, definitely made this academic experience vastly superior to academic experiences I have had elsewhere.”

Gull Island Student, ‘23

anonymous review

“The Gull Island Program offered a refreshing supplement--even correction--to my higher education experience. Gull Island allowed me to focus on where I am, who I am, and who I’m with - critical yet often overlooked parts of my liberal arts education.”


TJ Dulac, Gull Island Student '22, Harvard '23

“The question of right relation to the land is one I will continue to wrestle with.”

Gull Island Student '22

anonymous review

I found myself immersed in a captivating blend of intellectual exploration and serene tranquility, making it an unforgettable experience that left a profound impact on my perspective and understanding of the world. The island's breathtaking landscapes and thought-provoking discussions with like-minded individuals helped me see the natural world in a new light. 

Skylar Monjure

Gull Island Student ’23, Case Western Reserve '24

“I have been looking for ways that my work in climate science can evolve so that it makes more of a contribution towards the public good.[...]

The Gull Island project seeks to bridge that divide and address the kinds of questions I am asking in a radical way: by building a new kind of institution from the ground up, and connecting humanistic and scientific concerns not just through scholarship, but through embodied practices that allow deeper and more direct connections to each other and to the planet.”

Adam Sobel

Professor of Applied Physics and Math; Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University; Gull Island '22 Faculty

“I learned better ways to ask questions and new ways of talking to people. I learned that conflict and mistrust does not have to be the primary dynamic or default relational structure in groups of people.”

Gull Island Student '22, anonymous review

“Attending the Gull Island pilot expanded my understanding of traditional knowledge – a concept my own organization is trying to incorporate into practice [...]

The Gull Island Program has great potential to empower and encourage young people to work in areas of public service where they can have a huge impact.”

Marit Larson

Chief of Natural Resources Group, New York City Parks, Gull Island '22 Faculty

“I learned how to speak in seminar!! My confidence has grown tremendously and I can feel myself thinking and speaking in new ways inspired by the students and faculty around me. I am so happy with the way the island (in seminar but also in moments outside, during dinner for example) allowed me to experiment with different ways of sharing ideas and telling stories.

Gull Island Student ’23

anonymous review

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