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
  • Linguistics
  • Economics
  • Government
  • Student teachers
  • French
  • Theatre arts
  • Spanish
  • 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

Speakers and Other Campus Visitors

All-college convocations are scheduled each year, beginning with the Matriculation Convocation, at which the president speaks, and ending with an Honors Convocation at which the academic and extracurricular achievements of students are given special recognition.

The faculty Committee on Public Occasions invites individuals of high accomplishment and profound insight to address members of the college and Fox Valley communities on topics of broad interest.

Convocation visitors have included authors John Updike, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank McCourt, Maya Angelou, Joyce Carol Oates, Edward Hirsch, Isabel Allende, N. Scott Momaday and Salman Rushdie; journalists David Halberstam, Richard Rodriguez, Fareed Zakaria, Susan Faludi and Juliette Kayyem; public intellectuals Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West; historians Arthur Schlesinger, Michael Beschloss, James McPherson and William Cronon; activists Harry Wu, Fay Wattleson, Lech Walesa and Joia Mukherjee; public officials Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell and John Lewis; and scientists Robert Sopolsky, Lisa Randall, Brian Greene, Steven Pinker and Robert Ballard.

Convocations are held on Tuesdays or Thursdays at the 11:10 a.m. hour, which is reserved for that purpose.
Lecture series
Throughout the academic year, Lawrence offers a wide variety of lectures, symposia and colloquia.

The Main Hall Forum series sponsors a wide range of lectures by Lawrence faculty and distinguished academic guests speaking on historical and contemporary issues and presenting recent scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

The Thomas A. Steitz Hall of Science Colloquium is a series of cross-disciplinary lectures that address research developments in diverse areas of the natural and physical sciences.

The Recent Advances in Biology lecture series, sponsored by the biology department, addresses issues and advances in biological research. Talks by Lawrence faculty members and scientists from other universities and organizations expose students to the latest discoveries in a wide range of biological disciplines.

The Fine Arts Colloquium presents lectures that touch on topics related to art, art history and theatre.

Over the years, gifts from alumni and other friends of Lawrence have made funds available to support events of special interest, such as the Mojmir Povolny Lectureship in International Studies, which promotes discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimension; the Marguerite Schumann ’44 Memorial Lectureship, which sponsors speakers on topics that were of special interest to Ms. Schumann, such as history, music and writing; the Mia T. Paul, ’95, Poetry Fund Lectures; the William Chaney Lectureship in the Humanities; the Edward F. Mielke Lecture Series in Biomedical Ethics; and the Spoerl Lectureship in Science in Society.

Visiting artists
Each year, musicians of international stature visit Lawrence to appear in public concert or recital and to conduct master classes for conservatory students.

Musical visitors have included Emanuel Ax, piano; Joshua Bell, violin; the Czech Nonet Chamber Ensemble; Charlie Haden, jazz bass; Marilyn Horne, mezzo-soprano; The King’s Singers; Susan Graham, vocalist; Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Wynton Marsalis, jazz trumpet; Jon Hendricks, jazz vocalist; John Scofield, jazz guitarist; Benny Golson, saxophone; Maria Schneider, jazz composer and conductor; and Pinchas Zuckerman, violin, viola and conductor.

Gallery talks and experts’ lectures are an integral part of art exhibitions presented in the Wriston Art Center Galleries. Exhibitions in the three galleries of the art center often include sculptures, paintings, photography, works in a variety of genres and styles from the Lawrence Permanent Art Collection and the annual spring show by senior art majors.

Guest directors, designers and theatrical technicians are often brought to campus to assist in productions of the Department of Theatre Arts, teaching by example the fine points of theatrical technique.

The director of the Milwaukee-based Wildspace Dance Company serves as an artist in residence and teaches courses in the theatre arts department. The ensemble offers an annual performance on campus.

The Stephen Edward Scarff Memorial Visiting Professorship
The Scarff professorial chair, a visiting appointment, allows the college to bring to campus distinguished public servants, professional leaders and scholars to provide broad perspectives on the central issues of the day. Scarff professors teach courses, offer public lectures and collaborate with students and faculty members in research and scholarship.

Mr. and Mrs. Edward L. Scarff created the professorship in 1989 in memory of their son, Stephen, a 1975 Lawrence graduate.

Scarff visiting professors have included William Sloane Coffin, Jr., civil rights and peace activist; David Swartz, first U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Belarus in the former Soviet Union; G. Jonathan Greenwald, former United States minister-counselor to the European Union; Takakazu Kuriyama, former Japanese ambassador to the United States; Charles Ahlgren, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service with a specialty in economic affairs; George Meyer, former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; and Robert Suettinger, an intelligence analyst and China policy expert.

The Career Center and Internships

Internships are carefully supervised learning experiences in a work or service setting. Different than short-term jobs or volunteer experiences, internships are deliberately designed by the intern in order to explore his or her career area of interest. Interns bring a carefully considered learning agenda with intentional learning objectives to the internship and reflect actively on their experience. Internships can be taken for credit or not, and they can be paid or unpaid.

Recent internship projects have involved writing business plans for a growing non-profit organization in the Fox Valley, rehabilitating songbirds and raptors native to Wisconsin, learning the ropes of an innovative musical theatre in downtown Chicago, and counseling immigrants at the Irish Immigration Center in Boston.

Other internship sites have included Wall Street financial-service firms, domestic violence shelters, marine biology research laboratories, the Wisconsin State Historical Society, the United States Senate, the Newberry Library, the Argonne National Laboratory, and the Smithsonian Institution, among many others.

To assist students in their search for an internship, the Career Center maintains an active database of internship listings, books of national internship listings, and directories for locating potential internship sites. Career Center staff members are also available to assist students in identifying potential occupations they would like to explore in an internship.

For a detailed description of academic internships, go here.