Lessons in Nature | President Jones Reflects on AUNE’s Approach to Learning

Reflections from New Student Orientation, August 22, 2015

I spoke to ~120 of our incoming students, sharing some of my philosophy about our AUNE approach to learning. I leveraged my remarks with an experience from just that morning. I left home at 7:00 am, heading toward Dublin School for the morning session of the Monadnock Conservancy Annual meeting. By 7:30, the sun had begun to burn through the thick fog, the air rich with moisture. Dew adorned all surfaces. I remained alert to my surroundings, always ready to appreciate and learn from nature.

My reward – a powerful lesson through a gift from our natural world. As I rounded a curve, ahead to my left, a leafless tree stood along a fencerow, backlit by the emerging sun. Hundreds of orb weaver webs graced the fifty-foot tree’s naked limbs. Each geometric web bejeweled and sparkling. The webs stood as the dominant image as I passed – magical in contrast to the stark, bare branches.

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The lesson and gift? Beauty, wonder, awe, and inspiration lie hidden within all things, and within all people. Hidden that is, until special conditions reveal the invisible. The message I gave our new students? I pledged to them that we at AUNE will hold fidelity to a critical responsibility. A responsibility to assist them to discover through their graduate learning experience, the wonder, awe, beauty, magic, and inspiration that lie hidden within themselves and the world around them. We will enable them to see the invisible, and carry it with them throughout life’s journey.

Stephen B. Jones, President
Antioch University New England

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