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Laura Fredrickson, Ph.D.

Director of Gap Experience

B.A., University of Wisconsin-Stout

M.A., University of Minnesota
Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Laura Fredrickson is director of the Gap Experience program at St. Norbert College. She earned her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin - Stout (art and design) and both her M.A. (College of Human Development and Education: Outdoor Education) and Ph.D. (College of Natural Resources, emphasis on the human dimensions of natural resources management) from the University of Minnesota.

Prior to taking the position with St. Norbert College, Laura was a faculty member in the department of environmental studies at St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY. While at St. Lawrence University, Laura was instrumental in helping to design the highly sought after Adirondack Semester, whose mission is to enable students to study nature and human relationships with nature through academic classes enriched by direct experience.

Based on her experience in designing and building capacity around the Adirondack Semester, Laura brought her expertise to St. Norbert College and took on the challenge of developing the Gap Experience Program. The Gap Experience is a semester long, experiential based service-learning program designed for incoming first-year students. It seeks to deepen the experience of communio by promoting transformative student learning through engaged pedagogy, active community engagement and leadership development. During the semester, students address real community needs, build relationships of mutuality and work toward the common good through a unique combination of outdoor challenge, demanding academic study, and domestic and international travel.

Laura’s research and publications focus on the spiritual aspects of wilderness experience and the merits of experiential education – particularly as it applies to leadership development and the development of an environmental ethic. Beyond her academic accomplishments, Laura is professionally trained in counseling/spiritual direction and is a certified and registered yoga instructor. She is additionally trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR uses a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness and yoga, to help people become more mindful and better able to cope with modern day stress. Laura continues to seek opportunities to bring contemplative practices into her work at St. Norbert College.

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