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The St. Norbert Gap Experience

It’s not for the half-hearted: The Gap Experience is a rigorous academic, service and adventure program intended to forge leaders and change lives. It requires all-in commitment.

And it’s not for the cold-hearted: Gap students spend a large part of the semester compassionately engaging with issues facing our world today.

And it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted: This first-semester program involves scaling mountains ... canoeing crystalline lakes ... hiking volcanoes ... encountering the wilderness.

Again – it’s not for everybody. But if you’re still reading, maybe it’s for you.

Adventure

An Adventurous Start to Your Degree
You’ll begin with an outdoor leadership adventure along the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior. Here you will be exploring one of the most remote, beautiful environments on the planet. There, with your expedition team, you’ll test yourself climbing granite rock faces and paddling pristine rivers and lakes. You’ll build fires and blaze trails. You’ll venture deep into the woods, and even deeper into yourself.

When you emerge, you’ll journey to Chicago – where you’ll study difference and diversity in America. On the ground in the city you will confront and address urgent social issues including immigration, homelessness, hunger and addiction recovery.

Next, you'll move on to the desert Southwest, where you’ll live and learn at a Norbertine Abbey. Here, you’ll continue to engage in social justice issues and explore the cultural kaleidoscope of New Mexico.

Finally, you’ll travel to the vibrant Latin American country of Guatemala, where you’ll partner with nonprofit groups in a small community to counter the effects of social and economic injustice, learn about the country’s complex history – from the ancient Mayans to the era of civil unrest to the bustling ways of modern-day society – and deepen your understanding of the common issues facing most developing nations.

Service

Make a Positive Change in the Life of Others
Throughout the St. Norbert Gap Experience, you’ll have many opportunities to connect your passions with the needs of the world. During the middle component of this expedition, you'll see what it’s like to walk a mile in another’s shoes. You’ll learn, firsthand, about the challenges that so many in our country face every day. You’ll engage with community organizations working to serve those in need. You’ll make a positive change in the lives of others as well as in yourself.

Learn more about the work of our partners below:

Academics

LEAD 250: Experiential Leadership Through Wilderness Expedition
The course will focus on identifying and learning leadership skills within a small group setting. Concurrently, students will learn about various leadership models that will help them understand the importance of strong leadership within the wilderness setting and beyond -- such as how to be a successful leader in an academic setting. Students will increase their self-awareness as a member of a team, discover their leadership talents and skills within a group, develop and build interpersonal communication skills, learn to adjust leadership styles within the context of small group dynamics, and understand the values that guide their leadership style.

AMER 128A: American Myths, Community and the Individual
This course examines issues of class, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion throughout American history from the vantage point of various myths of American identity. The course asks students to analyze literary and historical readings and films on these concepts, in tandem with their practical experience of engaging in community service across the country while in the course. In light of this work, students will use their critical thinking skills to question and examine received notions of American identity, in order to understand the relationship between the individual and the community. This course blends the communities of the classroom and beyond, through readings, writing, films, discussion and community service. Students will travel to several locations throughout the United States, to perform service in urban, rural and wilderness sites.

SSCI 127: Colonialism, Cultural Imperialism and Hegemony In Latin America
This course focuses on the Latin American region, exploring various topical areas through a socio-political lens. The course is designed to give students the opportunity to learn about the region’s rich cultural and natural history, its religious & customary faith practices, its politics & civic accomplishments, and its creative contributions to the larger global society. These topic areas will first be explored through a traditional survey approach to the material to help ground the students understanding of the topical areas in a historical context, but then will move to an experientially-based learning environment where students will interface directly with various contemporary issues facing the peoples of Guatemala. Overall the course will provide students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the world’s cultural (and regional) diversity, while continually pushing them to question and evaluate the varied and pernicious issues facing those peoples in the region who are still marginalized and oppressed.

PHIL 120: Intro to Philosophy
This course provides a thematic and historical introduction to basic philosophical issues regarding human nature utilizing primary texts from established figures in the philosophical tradition. Topics include the moral dimension of human experience, the fundamental nature of the world, the nature of truth and knowledge, and justice. Readings include dialogues of Plato, authors from at least three of the four philosophical epochs (ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary), and at least one author from the Christian philosophical tradition. Emphasis will be placed on methods of logical inquiry including Socratic dialectic, deductive and inductive inference, and other forms of philosophical discourse with the goal of developing the student’s skills in written and oral communication.

Adventure

An Adventurous Start to Your Degree
You’ll begin with an outdoor leadership adventure along the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior. Here you will be exploring one of the most remote, beautiful environments on the planet. There, with your expedition team, you’ll test yourself climbing granite rock faces and paddling pristine rivers and lakes. You’ll build fires and blaze trails. You’ll venture deep into the woods, and even deeper into yourself.

When you emerge, you’ll journey to Chicago – where you’ll study difference and diversity in America. On the ground in the city you will confront and address urgent social issues including immigration, homelessness, hunger and addiction recovery.

Next, you'll move on to the desert Southwest, where you’ll live and learn at a Norbertine Abbey. Here, you’ll continue to engage in social justice issues and explore the cultural kaleidoscope of New Mexico.

Finally, you’ll travel to the vibrant Latin American country of Guatemala, where you’ll partner with nonprofit groups in a small community to counter the effects of social and economic injustice, learn about the country’s complex history – from the ancient Mayans to the era of civil unrest to the bustling ways of modern-day society – and deepen your understanding of the common issues facing most developing nations.

Service

Make a Positive Change in the Life of Others
Throughout the St. Norbert Gap Experience, you’ll have many opportunities to connect your passions with the needs of the world. During the middle component of this expedition, you'll see what it’s like to walk a mile in another’s shoes. You’ll learn, firsthand, about the challenges that so many in our country face every day. You’ll engage with community organizations working to serve those in need. You’ll make a positive change in the lives of others as well as in yourself.

Learn more about the work of our partners below:

Academics

LEAD 250: Experiential Leadership Through Wilderness Expedition
The course will focus on identifying and learning leadership skills within a small group setting. Concurrently, students will learn about various leadership models that will help them understand the importance of strong leadership within the wilderness setting and beyond -- such as how to be a successful leader in an academic setting. Students will increase their self-awareness as a member of a team, discover their leadership talents and skills within a group, develop and build interpersonal communication skills, learn to adjust leadership styles within the context of small group dynamics, and understand the values that guide their leadership style.

AMER 128A: American Myths, Community and the Individual
This course examines issues of class, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion throughout American history from the vantage point of various myths of American identity. The course asks students to analyze literary and historical readings and films on these concepts, in tandem with their practical experience of engaging in community service across the country while in the course. In light of this work, students will use their critical thinking skills to question and examine received notions of American identity, in order to understand the relationship between the individual and the community. This course blends the communities of the classroom and beyond, through readings, writing, films, discussion and community service. Students will travel to several locations throughout the United States, to perform service in urban, rural and wilderness sites.

SSCI 127: Colonialism, Cultural Imperialism and Hegemony In Latin America
This course focuses on the Latin American region, exploring various topical areas through a socio-political lens. The course is designed to give students the opportunity to learn about the region’s rich cultural and natural history, its religious & customary faith practices, its politics & civic accomplishments, and its creative contributions to the larger global society. These topic areas will first be explored through a traditional survey approach to the material to help ground the students understanding of the topical areas in a historical context, but then will move to an experientially-based learning environment where students will interface directly with various contemporary issues facing the peoples of Guatemala. Overall the course will provide students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the world’s cultural (and regional) diversity, while continually pushing them to question and evaluate the varied and pernicious issues facing those peoples in the region who are still marginalized and oppressed.

PHIL 120: Intro to Philosophy
This course provides a thematic and historical introduction to basic philosophical issues regarding human nature utilizing primary texts from established figures in the philosophical tradition. Topics include the moral dimension of human experience, the fundamental nature of the world, the nature of truth and knowledge, and justice. Readings include dialogues of Plato, authors from at least three of the four philosophical epochs (ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary), and at least one author from the Christian philosophical tradition. Emphasis will be placed on methods of logical inquiry including Socratic dialectic, deductive and inductive inference, and other forms of philosophical discourse with the goal of developing the student’s skills in written and oral communication.

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