Student Programs at Björklunden
Lawrence University’s northern seminar center, Björklunden vid Sjön, is located in Door County, Wisconsin, on the eastern side of the peninsula that forms the Bay of Green Bay. Björklunden (pronounced Bee-york´-lun-den), whose name means Birch Forest by the Water, is a 425-acre estate graced by woods, meadows, and more than a mile of unspoiled Lake Michigan shoreline.
Winifred and Donald Boynton bequeathed the property to Lawrence in 1963 with the understanding that it would be preserved in a way that would ensure its legacy as a place of serenity and contemplation.
The Boyntons’ summer residence became Björklunden’s main lodge. A fire in 1993 destroyed the original structure, but it was replaced by a new year-round seminar and conference center in 1996.
Following a major expansion in 2007, the 37,000-square-foot lodge now contains multi-purpose and seminar rooms, a dining room, and a kitchen, as well as 22 additional guest rooms. There are two lakeside decks, a top-story observation deck, an elevator, music practice rooms, and a computer lab. The entire facility has wireless Internet access.
In addition to the main building, the Björklunden estate also includes a small wooden chapel built in late 12th-century Norwegian stavkirke style, handcrafted by the Boyntons between 1939 and 1947 and modeled after the Garmo stave church at Maihaugen in Lillehammer, Norway.
Weekend student seminars
Throughout the academic year, groups of Lawrence students and faculty members travel to Björklunden for weekend seminars and retreats. Student seminars provide the opportunity to explore exciting themes and issues, along with the time and the environment in which to embrace ideas and their consequences.
The power of a Björklunden weekend lies in the connection between thought and reflection. Making that connection fulfills one ideal of a liberal education.
Björklunden weekends are distinctive and highly memorable integrative experiences. Seminar topics are wide-ranging, and students have the opportunity for intensive inquiry and discussion with faculty members and among themselves in an informal, intimate setting.
In creating and developing the seminars at Björklunden, Lawrence seeks to provide a different kind of educational experience, one in which participants are encouraged to leave old assumptions behind and the barriers of class, rank, and status are removed in order for students and faculty members to learn meaningfully from each other.
Lawrence invites each student to experience Björklunden and be changed. That is a powerful expectation, but those who have been to a seminar at Björklunden will testify to its fulfillment. As a place of refuge and peace, where spiritual values and aesthetic sensibilities can be explored, Björklunden provides a unique setting for personal growth.
Typical Björklunden seminars
The following are representative of the variety of topics and organizations that schedule Björklunden weekends:
- Gender studies
- Student teachers
- Theatre arts
- Philosophy Club
- Psychology Student Association
- Swimming and Diving team
- Magic Club
- Viking Conservatives
- College Democrats
- Improvisation troupe
- Amnesty International
- Fencing team
- The Lawrentian student newspaper
- Habitat for Humanity