Earth Ethics Institute

Earth Literacy Field Experience at Narrow Ridge


The 2024 Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Field Experience application is now live on the Changemaker Hub!

Click here to apply!  

Earth Ethics Institute offers a week-long field experience at Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center in Washburn, Tennessee in early May where students explore Earth Literacy, eco-justice, land stewardship, home and community gardening, and green building construction.

First-year students interested in developing their leadership skills are eligible to apply to attend the Earth Literacy Field Experience at Narrow Ridge.

2023 Narrow Ridge Student Report

To view the 2023 Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Field Experience student report, including photos, reflections,  and information on the students' projects, please click here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center (NRELC) is a facility located on 500 acres of land in northeastern Tennessee. The center was established in 1991 to provide a place to study, teach and demonstrate Earth Literacy and simple, sustainable living. The mission of Narrow Ridge is to provide experiential learning of Earth Literacy based on the cornerstones of spirituality, sustainability and community. The vision of Narrow Ridge is one of justice for human beings, animals, and Earth and sustainability in the way we live our lives and the way we create institutions and technologies. This vision is one of education and leadership by example in creating alternatives to the present society and culture.

Students participate in a variety of activities that deepen their connection to Earth, humanity and other beings. Activities include organic gardening, tours of simple and sustainably-designed structures (participants will stay in a strawbale lodge or wood cabin), film screenings on environmental issues and hikes. Facilitators engage students in in-depth discussions and sharing, role-playing, reflection and journaling. Students are able to engage in self-discovery and often form strong friendships and bonds with their peers in the program. Students leave with a strong sense of interconnectedness and strong desire to share what they have learned with their community in Miami.

The program at Narrow Ridge is run primarily by two individuals, Mitzi Wood-Von Mizener, Ph.D. and Bill Nickle, M.A. Dr. Wood-Von Mizener is the director of the Narrow Ridge Center and Mr. Nickle is the previous director and founder of the center. Both have, or currently serve, on the Earth Ethics Institute Advisory Board. They have extensive training and experience with Earth Literacy, Natural History, Green Building and Environmental Sustainability. Visit for more information.

Students learn about how an individual can live sustainably and simply through basic green design and mindfulness. Specifically, students learn about the benefits and installation of: photovoltaic panels and windmills, composting toilets, strawbale housing structures (or other structures made from renewable, inexpensive resources), rain barrels and organic farming techniques. Students learn about the environmental and health benefits of eating a vegetarian diet and are introduced to various recipes for cooking vegetarian meals. Various environmental and humanitarian issues are addressed and presented by local experts and films on topics including access to and shortage of fresh water, climate change, fossil fuel usage and food access, nuclear weapon proliferation, and mountaintop removal. Students also learn about the evolution of the universe and reflect upon and discuss our role as humans.

Students submit an application consisting of:

  1. A 300-500 word essay stating reasons for interest in attending the program
  2. One letter of recommendation from an MDC faculty member
  3. A photocopy of their government issued ID
  4. A copy of their MDC degree audit

Student applications are screened by a committee composed of Earth Ethics Institute staff, and responses are sent out two weeks after the deadline.

Students meet with each other and the Faculty Advisor (as well as an EEI staff member) two weeks prior to the trip. The Faculty Advisor or EEI staff member goes over the travel logistics, what to bring and what to expect. Students are able to voice any concerns and ask questions.

Applicants who are accepted do not pay any costs related to airfare, travel to and from the site, meals, and room/lodging. The trip is fully sponsored by Earth Ethics Institute and Student Life. This makes the application screening process quite competitive, so make sure your application is very strong! (Students might want to bring some cash for snacks or food at the airport both to and from NRELC.)

Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center
Washburn, Tennessee - May, Summer A

8-Day Schedule:

  • FIRST DAY: Depart Miami - Students registered for IDS 1920 depart Miami for Washburn, Tennessee (usually a Sunday or Monday)
  • The Earth Literacy Paradigm - Practical ecology applied to personal lifestyle; the new cosmology and eco-spirituality
  • The Eco-Justice Paradigm - Connections between degradation of Earth and militarism, racism, sexism, violence, and poverty; the Earth Charter as a positive statement and guide for public policy
  • Land Stewardship - Land trusts, conservation easements, preserving land health
  • Home & Community Gardening - Year-round, native-plant, & organic gardening; planting edible landscapes; vegetarian cooking
  • Green Building Construction - Building an energy-efficient shelter with renewable materials, solar power, in harmony with land dynamics, and mindful of resource conservation and waste recycling
  • LAST DAY: Students depart Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center - to return to Miami (a Sunday or Monday)