Who takes these courses?
Students from all departments and colleges in the University have enrolled in Adventure Literature courses, not just students from the College of the Liberal Arts. The experiential basis of the courses makes them attractive to those who are intimidated by the abstract nature of university-level courses in literature and culture. In Adventure Literature courses, ideas are grounded in the trips the students take and the activities they take part in.
Are there prerequisites for any of these courses?
No. They are introductory courses that are open to all students.
Can I sign up just to take the trip?
No. This program combines courses in English with outdoors experiences. The philosophy motivating the program holds that you can actually learn more (and more easily) by informing and enhancing a physical activity with the intellectual work of a humanities course.
Can I sign up for just the GHW (General Health and Wellness) credits?
No. The courses can only be taken together.
How can I register for these courses?
You can register for these courses online in the same way that you sign up for other Penn State courses. In the case of those programs that involve both English and GHW courses, you will be automatically signed up for the 1.5 credit course when you register for the English course. On the Fee and Registration page for each course you can find additional information about registering. You can also get registration help, if you need it, by contacting the English Department, the professor in charge (email@example.com), or the program manager (814-863-5144).
I am a graduate student. May I take these courses?
Yes. Although these courses were designed with undergraduate students in mind, graduate students have taken them and have profited a great deal from taking them. Check with your adviser to see if English 496 can be accepted in your program.
How large are the classes?
Adventure Literature courses usually enroll a maximum of 16 to 24 students per class, so the courses are really seminars with an emphasis on student engagement and participation and lots of personal attention from the instructors.
Are these “real” Penn State courses?
Yes. They are offered in conjunction with Penn State Outreach and Continuing Education, but they are sanctioned by the departments that offer them, and the instructors for the courses are approved by those academic departments. The program was created by and continues to be run by a professor in the English Department.
Will the credits I earn count toward fulfilling my degree requirements?
Yes. All courses numbered 181 satisfy both GH (General Humanities) and US (US Cultures) requirements. All Adventure Literature courses were designed with General Education requirements in mind, so in courses where the requirements are not automatically fulfilled, you may always petition for them to satisfy the requirement. English majors and minors can count the English course toward the required 200-level courses on the checklist, or they can opt to take the course as ENGL 496 so that it will count as a required 400-level course on the major or minor checklist.
How much reading is there?
The amount of reading depends on the course; generally, they have as much reading as most other literature courses, with the difference that all the reading assignments are selected to inform the experiential aspects of the courses.
Do I need my own gear?
No. You may need to buy some noncotton, technical clothing; sandals or water shoes; and/or hiking boots, depending on the course you sign up for, but all the outdoor gear for the trips — from tents and packs and stoves to climbing shoes and ropes to kayaks and paddles — is covered by your course fee.
What is included in the course fee?
This varies with each course, but, generally speaking, the fee covers the cost of all equipment, instruction or guiding by outfitters, and food for the extended trips. For example, the fee for the Wilderness Literature course covers the cost of travel, rental of all the gear needed for a weeklong backpacking trip (pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, cooking gear, etc.), food for the backpacking trip, rock climbing gear and facility rental, and a two-day white-water rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River. In “The Beach,” “Sailing the Chesapeake Bay,” and “Exploring Cape Cod” courses the fee also covers some catered meals, entry fees for museums, and readings and interviews with authors and speakers who enhance our understanding of the material.
Is transportation included in the course fee?
Yes. The program rents fifteen-passenger maxivans from the University’s Fleet Operations for transportation to the adventure sites, so you will have no expenses for airfare or gasoline and no wear and tear on your vehicle.
Does the food provided accommodate persons with dietary restrictions — for instance, vegetarians and those with food allergies?
Of course. For meals cooked in camp, you will always have a say in what you eat. In the case of catered meals, food will be provided to suit your needs.
Do I need to have experience in outdoor activities?
No. All the activities in each course are taught at a beginner’s level. So, for example, if you have never kayaked, you will be taught basic strokes and skills needed to accomplish the activities in the course. If you have ever wanted to participate in any of these activities, the courses will serve as a great introduction. Once basic instruction is accomplished, you will have opportunities to try more advanced skills. For example, in “The Beach” course, students who wish may be given the opportunity to try surf kayaking. All skill levels are welcomed and accommodated.
Will I be safe while participating in these adventures?
The program does everything it can to keep the students safe. A Penn State professor will be with you on the outing(s). Other instructors have significant outdoor experience and first aid certification (in most cases, they are Wilderness First Responders or Wilderness EMTs). Moreover, the outfitters and other organizations we subcontract with offer similar qualifications and serve as a second layer of safety for the students.