University description (as per official university website)
Educating for Humanity
The Heritage Institute offers continuing education for teachers, revitalizing the enthusiasm for their calling in the more than 3,000 educators we reach annually.
Through workshops, field courses, global travel studies and distance courses given by more than 100 adjunct faculty members, we do our best to teach subjects in a larger context. The content we offer becomes a vehicle to learn about whom we are, our relationships to everything around us, the beauty in the world, our connection and obligation to our communities and the larger whole. We educate for the way we want to live and for the kind of world we want to live in. Our philosophy to “educate for humanity and the world we want” considers character more important than content, and the development of whole human beings above simple knowledge.
Our Approach & the Times
A convergence of environmental, social, economic and spiritual crises makes our times unprecedented in human history, arguing for a move away from business as usual. The modern world’s unsustainable life style raises the stakes on the need for change in all aspects of how we think and live — especially in how we educate the world’s youth. We cannot simply educate better. We must educate differently, re-visioning educational purposes in light of universal human values and what’s essential to sustaining the entire community of life.
An Experiential Approach to Learning
“It was fun,” “I can use what I learned,” “I feel renewed as a teacher” are common words of praise we’ve heard about our experiential programs. Whether we’re examining nurse logs in an old-growth Pacific Northwest forest, taking rubbings from a grave marker in London’s famed Highgate Cemetery, or doing movement exercises in a workshop on game activities for elementary teachers, our programs are hands-on and fun, providing teachers something they can use right away in their classrooms. And they’re intellectually rigorous. Our affiliation with Antioch University, Seattle — providing continuing education credit for our courses — aligns our curriculum with the high academic standards of a respected, progressive institution of higher learning.
Beginning in 1975, groups of teachers began exploring old-growth forests, beaches and various biomes of the Pacific Northwest with field instructors. They were with The Heritage Institute, learning how to listen to and understand the language of leaf, branch, root, rock, fern, bird, fish and mammal. Nature is our first and — we are learning anew today — most important teacher. From the perspective of nature we can begin to understand our human history with the cultural knowledge we have evolved over millennia; an important context upon which young people build knowledge. From these beginnings, the teachers we served encouraged us to expand our offerings beyond natural and social history, resulting in the growth of curriculum and instruction workshops across a host of academic disciplines.