We hope you'll join us for one (or more!) of our Björklunden seminars.  These classes are fondly referred to as “vacations with a purpose.”  You'll learn and grow while experiencing the hominess of our lodge and the natural beauty of Lawrence's Door County campus.

This spring, Björklunden is pleased to introduce pre-season, online courses. Late March through June Lawrence University professor of history Paul Cohen will offer two online courses. Students will meet for one 90-minute session (with a break) per week for five weeks, and Dr. Cohen lead them in learning and exploring key texts that they absorb between sessions.

Beginning on June 11 and running through October 20, all seminars will be offered in-person at Björklunden. One seminar, Medical Controversies with David Hines, will be offered hybrid with both an online and in-person option.

Steps for exploring the seminar options and getting registered:

  1. Read through the Seminar courses below.
  2. Check out biography information on the instructors here.
  3. Click here to register. Scroll to find your preferred week and select it. Later, you'll be asked to select from a drop-down menu the course you wish to take. 

If you have any questions or challenges, please contact us at  bjorkseminars@lawrence.edu or 920-839-2216.

Bring the Family

The Door Peninsula offers a variety of activities, including youth educational programming available from other nearby organizations. Check out our curated list of camps happening this summer. Bjorklunden also has a youth education coordinator who can organize programming as requested.

2023 Seminar Schedule

Bjorklunden Seminars

The Russia Syndrome (ONLINE)

March 30th - April 27th

How does Putin’s war against Ukraine fit into the broader scope of Russian history? This seminar will address Russia’s deep-seated resentment of the West starting in the mid-19th century and ending with Putin and his anti-western agenda. Topics will include Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin and his totalitarian attempt to catch up to the West, Gorbachev and his failure to westernize Russia, and Putin’s imperial ambitions. Readings will be Theodore Von Laue, Why Lenin, Why Stalin, Why Gorbachev (selections); Joseph Stalin, 1928 speech on the Five-Year Plan; Paul Cohen, Russia's 'Dangerfield Syndrome' (Illumination, April 16, 2021); and Max Weber, "Asceticism and the Spirit of Capitalism." 5 Online Sessions: Thursdays, March 30-April 27 (2:00-3:30pm)

Topic(s): Russian History, Politics
Instructor(s): Dr. Paul Cohen

Cohen’s Classics (ONLINE)

May 5th - June 2nd

This seminar will treat several of the texts and films I’ve most enjoyed teaching over my 37 years at Lawrence. What captivates me most about these works is that while they might seem initially opaque if not impenetrable, I’ve been able to engage students in a Socratic dialogue—or my own gentler variation of it—until the text or film in question begins to open up. To see the light come into a student’s eyes as she comprehends such a work and appreciates its beauty has been my greatest joy as a teacher. The seminar will begin with selections from Plato’s Republic and then move to the Basic Writings of Chuang Tzu, a Taoist philosopher. We will end by discussing two of my favorite films: The Third Man (Carol Reed 1949) and Chinatown (Roman Polansky, 1974).

5 Online Sessions: Fridays, May 5-June 2 (1:00-2:30pm)

Topic(s): Philosophy, Film History
Instructor(s): Dr. Paul Cohen

Doing Nothing

June 11th - June 16th

The act of purposefully slowing down and doing less has been proven to boost creativity, prevent burnout, and promote the ability to cope with stress. This participatory course will introduce participants to practices, skills, and techniques that encourage deep thinking – an essential skill for lifelong liberal learning.

This course is based on the popular 1-unit Lawrence University course by the same name, which has received attention from news outlets including Time Magazine, NPR, and CNBC.

Despite the course’s title, participants will be asked to complete short readings and participate in a number of skills and practices including, but not limited to: walking, gentle movement, meditation, and writing. In order to maximize the “nothing” that we do together, the use of phones or other technology will be prohibited during class time.

Topic(s): Mindfullness
Instructor(s): Dr. Constance Kassor

Listen to the Birds

June 11th - June 16th

Our goal is to see as many birds as we can find, especially ones you select, in the most beautiful preserves in the county. My goal is to deepen your love and excitement for these amazing creatures and to expose you to a new way of birding where you learn from the birds, not just identify them. You will also learn field identification skills, bird sounds using a variety of sound tools, techniques for understanding the complex behaviors of birds, and fascinating discoveries that science has made about birds. The emerging importance of conserving and enhancing bird stopover habitats will be shared, as well as some of the results from the breeding bird census that is currently being done throughout Wisconsin, such as birds of greatest conservation need. You must be able to walk on unpaved trails for distances of two miles over a period of 2 ½ hours.

Topic(s): Bird Watching
Instructor(s): Don Quintenz

Practicing Location: Internal/External (Mindful movement + nature wandering)

June 11th - June 16th

Through mindful walking, breathwork, and gentle somatic practice, we will spend our mornings listening deeply to the current of place, both internal and external. Working along the shore of Lake Michigan, we will walk the trails surrounding Björklunden utilizing specific listening, noticing, observing tactics to examine how our feet are meeting the ground beneath us, how our bodies and senses are attending to the current moment unfolding. Daily, we will say a gentle hello to our body, a hello to the place we are in. Daily, we will attend to the other than human world, reduce our stress and regulate our nervous systems with outdoor wandering practices.

What we will do:

We will walk at a slow to medium pace. We will attend to shifts in weather, temperature, color of Lake Michigan. We will track the tide and wind direction and clouds. We will sit in place and attend to the smallest rhythms, movements of place. We will practice breathing, being with our bodies. We will walk and think and move gently, even glacially paced. We will sort through our experiences with free writing, drawing, and conversation. We will rest with yin yoga postures and restorative embodied practices.

All walking and movement will be taken at our own place. All experience with your body is welcome. All exercises and walks can be experienced seated, standing, lying down or walking, depending on your body's desires and needs. Necessary tools for the week: a journal, shoes to walk in, the desire to explore, curiosity.

*These walks and movement exercises have been created via grants from the University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign, and conversations with people + places: small fishing villages in Costa Rica, high up in mountains and on rooftops in New Mexico, cliff walking in Portugal, midnight forest walking in Wales, prairies and Walmarts and sidewalks in the States, and The Croft Residency.

Topic(s): Mindfullness
Instructor(s): Mauriah Donegan Kraker

The Underground Railroad

June 11th - June 16th

During the mid to late 19th century, Wisconsin was an important point along the Underground Railroad and an important stop for those risking it all for freedom in Canada. Enslaved men, women, and children would begin their journey in one of the upper southern states, and go from stop to stop, ultimately reaching “their Canaan lands.” Free Black towns were pivotal in their success. There were groups of sympathetic whites that aided in African Americans’ pursuit of freedom. Less sympathetic whites considered them subversive fanatics. The aim of this class is to achieve an understanding of African American leaders of this movement, the geography of the Underground Railroad with a particular focus on Wisconsin's role, and the nature of opposition to antislavery sentiment. Students will also explore the Underground Railroad’s recent depictions in television shows such as Amazon’s Underground, Colson Whitehead’s award-winning novel Underground Railroad, and films such as Harriet, relying on primary textual sources and local historical sites in the Midwest to further their understanding of one of the greatest stories in our nation’s history. This course will conclude by discussing modern day parallels to the Underground Railroad and furthering students’ understanding of current abolitionist efforts to combat injustice like Mass Incarceration.

Topic(s): American History
Instructor(s): Betsy Schlabach

Race and Racism in Society 

June 18th - June 23rd

This class would introduce participants to the concept of race, from its pseudoscience beginnings to its usage in media, these sessions would trace its development as a socially constructed idea to a political reality. The class sessions would then explore the way racism gives race meaning in society and end with discussion about how to bring about racisms' end. Topics include race in education, race in the media, race and religion, race in the criminal justice system, and race and medicine/health.

Topic(s): Ethnic Studies
Instructor(s): Jesus Gregorio Smith

Geologic Principles, Groundwater, and Engineering Geology Case Histories

June 25th - June 30th

This class will be geared for folks who may know only a bit about geology but want to know more about our truly phenomenal earth, including its groundwater realm. After an introduction to the basic principles of the science, the bulk of the course will comprise case histories of engineering geology and groundwater related projects, some of which appear as detective sagas. All are demonstrative of the complexity and beauty of the science.

Much of the information will be shared through Power Point presentations, with lots of photographs and diagrams. There will also be plenty of opportunities to handle some quite spectacular rock samples. Rocks which, nestled in the palm of one’s hand, clearly show vivid and delightful evidence of earth processes. In addition to lectures in the mornings, afternoon workshops are planned for three of the days.

Some of the topics to be covered include:
1. Geology Fundamentals: Structure of the Earth, Rocks & Minerals, and Geologic Time
2. Plate Tectonics – What, for most people, will be a truly revelatory experience. (Our planet has been seething for hundreds of millions of years, with the tectonic plates skating wildly over the surface.)
3. Groundwater Flow and its Surprisingly Beautiful Mathematics
4. Selected Hydrogeology Project Case Histories; Examples of the application of the principles of hydrogeology to some major, engineered human undertakings.
5. Some truly unusual and rather astonishing case histories in engineering geology.

Participants will be able to wander the cobbled shore of Lake Michigan and discover the phenomenal variety of rocks people find of interest there. On several evenings during the week, slide shows of some geologically spectacular localities will be presented to those who would wish to see them. A suggested reading list will be provided at the time of the class but suggested advanced prep can include selecting a few favorite rocks you might like to bring along for discussion and analysis.

Topic(s): Geology, Groundwater
Instructor(s): Bill Shefchik

How We Know What We Know: Social and Intellectual History Meets Cognitive Science

June 25th - June 30th

The foundation of human culture is trust in knowledge inherited from previous generations. So what are the cognitive, social and historical factors that have shaped our sense of certainty about the world we live in—what everyone knows that everyone knows? The existence of natural laws; the concept of “zero” applied in math; the notion that we “have” an inner self; these are just samples of intellectual discoveries, traditions or assumptions floating around! Why those factors? Whose opinions held sway—and why? We’ll merely scratch the surface in addressing these BIG questions, but such scratching is what keeps us coming back to Björklunden. We’ll scratch where you itch to know more!

Topic(s): Social History, Cognitive Science
Instructor(s): Jerry Camery-Hoggatt, Roger Johnson

The Prosecutor’s Art: from the streets to the suites … and to the Oval Office

June 25th - June 30th

Street crime, white collar crime, presidential crime … whatever the crime, prosecutors must direct investigations, assemble evidence, and decide whether to charge. They must exercise discretion – whether to ask grand juries to indict; whether to bring cases before judges and juries.

But how? What is their authority? What are their criteria? What are their strategies … their tools and techniques? Do federal and state constitutions control them? Do their own constitutions propel or restrain them? Do corruption or politics influence them?

From behind the scenes to open court, with law, literature, cinema and more, a former state/federal prosecutor will guide our search for answers. For perspective, we’ll also look closely at the current and unfolding example of a seldom-seen prosecutor—a “Special Counsel”—investigating (and prosecuting?) a former president.

Essential Readings:
+ Preet Bharara, Doing Justice / A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law
+ The New York Times (daily); and, for comparative purposes, a local newspaper and/or internet source

Additional readings:
+ Jesse Eisinger, The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives
+ Susan Glaspell, “A Jury of Her Peers” (1917)
+ Charles B. Schudson, Ashton P. Onellion, and Ellen Hochstedler, “Nailing an Omelet to the Wall: Prosecuting Nursing Home Homicide”
+ Charles B. Schudson, and Billie Wright Dziech, On Trial / America’s Courts and Their Treatment of Sexually Abused Children
+ Charles B. Schudson, Independence Corrupted / How America’s Judges Make Their Decisions

Recommended Viewing: “My Cousin Vinny” (1992)

Topic(s): Law, Criminial Prosecution
Instructor(s): Judge Charles B. Schudson

Elizabeth II: Her Life and Times and Legacy

July 16th - July 21st

Queen Elizabeth II was the longest reigning monarch in British history. She was born in London on April 21, 1926, to the Duke and Duchess of York, and her father became king in 1936, following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. Princess Elizabeth was very close to her father George VI, her mother, and younger sister Margaret. The Royal Family was very popular throughout the United Kingdom and played a prominent role in rallying the nation during World War II. In 1947, Elizabeth II married Prince Philip and the couple had four children. Following the death of George VI in 1952, Elizabeth became Queen of England. Her monarchy began during a difficult time in British history with the inevitable dismantling of the Empire, as well as countless economic challenges. She nevertheless remained steadfast, not only in her early reign, but in the decades that followed with a confidence and determination that all would be well. She became the most popular British monarch ever, and even the dysfunction in her family did not impact her public standing. King Charles stated regarding his mother: “Queen Elizabeth’s was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept. . .and a promise of lifelong service.” The seminar will focus on the life and times of Elizabeth II, and her impact on Britain as well as the world.

This seminar is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Dr. Jack Rhodes, Bjorklunden seminar instructor, who passed away on October 10, 2022. Jack was a kind and gentle soul, an exceptional human being, and a fan of Elizabeth II.

Recommended Reading: Robert Hardman’s, Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II.

Topic(s): Queen Elizabeth Ii
Instructor(s): Tim Crain

Equality or Diversity? The Rise and Return of American Federalism

July 16th - July 21st

The Constitution was created to knit together 13 colonies --- each with more than 100 years of their own history --- into a country governed from a national capital. Genius at the time, but it has led to 250 years of conflict between the states and the federal government over self-rule, equality, economic development, and environmental protection. We'll look at major Constitutional cases and political controversies highlighting the place of the federal government and the states, and emphasize the critical periods of the 1850s, 1930s, 1960s, --- and the present.

Topic(s): American Political History, Federalism
Instructor(s): Arnold F. Shober

How Democracies Die: Hitler’s Seizure of Power in Germany

July 16th - July 21st

In January 1933, Adolf Hitler, a rabblerousing demagogue whose Nazi Party had achieved a plurality via free elections but never a majority in Germany's Reichstag, was appointed his nation’s Chancellor, the beneficiary of crisis and compromise. His government was expected to fall as soon as the next election. A mere six years later, as Hitler prepared to launch the most destructive war in human history, his government wielded a power over the German people that was ruthless and absolute. How did a fledgling democracy descend into totalitarianism in such a short period of time? We will examine the ways in which Hitler and the Nazi regime seized and consolidated power between 1933 and 1939, conducting an attack on democratic institutions at home as they girded for an anti-democratic crusade that was global in scope and ambition. How did democracy die in Germany? What lessons can the German experience offer fragile democracies as they struggle to survive in the 21st century? The seminar will offer perspectives on both the past and the future of what Winston Churchill famously called “the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.”

Topic(s): Democracy, German History
Instructor(s): Jerald Podair, Jon Greenwald

From Sesame Street to Snap Chat. Exploring the impact of media and technology on developing children and teenagers.

July 23rd - July 28th

Over the past four decades we have seen a technological revolution, with advances in all forms of media including music, television, movies, the internet, video games, smart phones, social platforms, and much more. Children today have more access to the digital world than any generation before and tend to vastly outpace their parents’ abilities to keep up with and monitor their technology use. In this seminar we will explore child and adolescent development through the lens of daily technology exposure. Topics covered will include infants and television viewing, young children and the internet, teens’ use of social media and smart phones, plus much more. This seminar will close with an understanding of the positive and negative influences of technology. We will discuss developing strategies that can help us protect young people as they navigate the digital world around them.

Topic(s): Digital Media, Child Development
Instructor(s): Rachel Birmingham-Hoel PhD

Heloise and Abelard: Loves and Lusts in the Long Twelfth Century

July 23rd - July 28th

Heloise and Abelard -- lovers, teachers, philosophers, monastic founders, and companions inseparable even in death. Theirs is a bittersweet story of equals in passion and intellect that is emblematic of their time and place and also forever immortalized in paintings, movies, even opera. This course will explore their entangled lives first within a twelfth-century context. As we read their love poetry, letters, and monastic writings, we will examine the great Gothic cathedrals of France, other towering intellects of university circles, charismatic leaders of new monastic foundations, and cultural cross-pollination resulting from the Crusades. Finally, we will consider modern re-interpretations of Heloise and Abelard on screen, canvas, and in print as these two medieval creators continue to inspire people across the ages.

Recommended reading: The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, trans. and ed. Betty Radice, Penguin Classics.

Topic(s): European History, Art, Literature
Instructor(s): Catherine Keene, Danielle Joyner

Pillagers, Traders, Farmers, and Dragons: A Journey through the Viking World

July 23rd - July 28th

Registration now full for Residents. Commuters and Auditors may still register for this course.

Across the seas, in the Early Middle Ages, came the most vicious threat that the world had known to that point, at least if we believe those who wrote about the Vikings. Their raids, their myths, and their horned helmets have become part of their legacy - at least in our imaginations and in popular culture. This seminar will examine what has become known as the Viking Age. We will see it was more complex than simply being a time of raiding and pillaging. The sessions for the week will look at Scandinavian society, culture, religion, women, and many other topics from the eighth through eleventh century. After challenging our preconception and determining what life was like for Vikings, we will examine their impact on medieval Europe and the modern imagination, including the misappropriation of them in our own world. On our journey, we will see long boats, dragons, a trickster, the formation of democracy, slaves, heroes, bodyguards, and even the New World. Join in on a trip to the corners for the physical, spiritual, and perceptual corners of the medieval world.

Topic(s): Medieval Scandinavian History
Instructor(s): Nikolas O. Hoel

After Trump?

July 30th - August 4th

Registration now full for Residents and Commuters. A few auditor spots are still available.

How has Donald Trump changed American politics? Trump won the presidency in 2016 by understanding better than anyone else that there was a latent energy in the electorate—a raging desire in many voters for disruption and destruction—and he gave it a voice, a style, and a direction. Trump’s the most consequential U.S. politician since Ronald Reagan. But is the Trump era over? And if it is—what is the legacy of this extraordinary force and the man who unleashed it? And what will take its place? This seminar will take a hard look at where Trump and Trumpism stand in 2023; how Democrats and independents defeated the Trump movement in two straight elections; and what it all means for the 2024 presidential campaign.

Topic(s): Politics
Instructor(s): Terry Moran

Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin

July 30th - August 4th

We will spend the week exploring Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse, the masterpiece of Russia’s greatest writer, Alexander Pushkin. We will follow the exploits and intrigues of the central characters; stroll through 1820s St. Petersburg, the Russian countryside, and Moscow; learn to play whist, to dance the mazurka, and to fight duels à la russe. All the while we will keep an eye on Pushkin, whose sparkling style, omnivorous curiosity, and tragic life have been a central point of reference for Russian culture at least since the mid 1800s. We will close with a look at one of the most well-known Russian interpretations of the novel: Tchaikovsky’s 1877-78 opera Eugene Onegin.

Required text:
Eugene Onegin. Alexander Pushkin, trans. James E. Falen. 978-0199538645

Recommended background reading:
Selected Lyric Poetry. Alexander Pushkin, trans. James E. Falen. 978-0810126428
A Short Life of Pushkin. Robert Chandler. 978-1782273448

For the adventurous:
Pushkin: A Biography. T.J. Binyon. 978-1400076529
Eugene Onegin. Alexander Pushkin, trans. Stanley Mitchell. 978-0140448108

Topic(s): Russian Literature
Instructor(s): Peter Thomas

Beauty and Creativity

August 6th - August 11th

The area of philosophy known as Aesthetics asks the question: What is beauty? The most popular answer is, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” But this is only one among many possible answers. Perhaps beauty is not in the eye of the beholder at all, but in the object itself. Or maybe beauty is a product of the intention of the artist (regardless of public acceptance or the properties of the art object). Or maybe there is no such thing as beauty, or... maybe everything is beautiful! (If either of the latter two theories are true, there would be no need for the concept!) We need to get beyond these traditional theories so that we can explain progress in the arts and nurture the processes that contribute to that progress. Terry will argue that a theory of, and standards for, creativity are needed in order to understand beauty and to advance the discussion. Join Terry for a fun-filled week of theory, live performance, a virtual tour of three unusual art museums, and even some show and tell.

Topic(s): Philosophy &art
Instructor(s): Terry Goode

Democracy and the Arts

August 6th - August 11th

“Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster and support a form of education, and access to the arts and humanities.” With these words, a 1965 law established the National Endowment for the Arts. In this seminar, we will explore the rich and complex relationship between democracy and the arts in the American context. We will discuss works by artists who are also activists, such as Faith Ringgold, Nicolas Lampert, Sister Corita Kent, Pegi Christiansen, and Edgar Heap of Birds. We will discover how collectives such as Rural Urban Flow, Artists 4 Democracy, and For Freedoms are working to increase civic engagement in order to strengthen and improve democracy. We will study local and state art agencies to understand how government supports the arts in local communities. Finally, we will engage in a hands-on art-making activity where seminar participants can express their views of democracy. As artist Sandy Rodriguez has said, “There is an authentic way of speaking your lived experience and truth that can appear in a physical object that also inspires change and action.”

Topic(s): Democracy & Art
Instructor(s): Bronwyn Mauldin

Education to what end? Who decides?

August 6th - August 11th

Public schools have always been sites of cultural and political tension. Recently, that tension has turned schools into ground zero for increasingly vitriolic culture wars. Book bannings have increased exponentially, fears of “liberal indoctrination” by well-organized parental groups have prompted legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and at least 36 states have advanced legislation aimed at limiting the teaching of race and racism, all under the umbrella of resisting “critical race theory” in schools. These fiery debates regarding curriculum and pedagogy point to a rich and complicated set of questions: What is the purpose of education? Who decides? Is it possible—or even wise—for schools to organize around one common purpose for education? How does the country’s multicultural and pluralistic democracy matter when thinking about the larger purpose of education? Join us for a week of lively discussion as we engage with the ideas and writings of bell hooks, John Dewey, Paolo Freire, A.S. Neill, James Baldwin, and Bettina Love and consider the purpose of education from different vantage points, including liberation, social change, creativity, democracy, and joy.

Readings will be provided in May.

Topic(s): Public Education
Instructor(s): Lauren Gatti

A Sky Full of Planets: Exploring the Night Sky and Our Solar System

August 13th - August 19th

Registration now full for Residents. Commuters and Auditors may still register for this course.

On a clear night, far from the light and the rush of the city, you can see thousands of stars. They tell our stories, guide our way, and quietly mark time. From a twinkle of light, the stars reveal something much more: the history of our celestial home, the Universe. From the formation of our planet to the life of our Sun, the swirling maelstrom of our galaxy, and the unimaginable deep of Infinity, the lights of the night sky reveal the vast sweep of the cosmos. In this course we will explore the history of our exploration of the night, particularly our home in the cosmos: our own Solar System. You’ll learn about the discoveries of the latest missions, our plans for the future, and the nature of the more than 10,000 other solar systems now known to exist. Weather permitting, you’ll learn practical astronomy with naked eye and telescopic night observations, during a week chosen to avoid a bright moon. No prior background in astronomy or physics is required. Please join me in what Wordsworth would call the “poetry of the heavens.”

Suggested readings: Cosmos by Carl Sagan, with updates by Druyan and deGrasse Tyson. Paperback. ISBN-10: 978034553943. The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H. A. Rey. Paperback. ISBN-10: 0544763440.

Topic(s): Astronomy
Instructor(s): Megan Pickett

John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life

August 13th - August 19th


John Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, and the youngest president ever elected to office. Born into a large wealthy family in 1917, Kennedy’s father Joseph was a successful banker and businessman who wanted one of his sons to become a politician. Although Jack Kennedy’s early life was marked with great privilege, he was often sick and gravely ill on several occasions. He graduated from Harvard University in 1940 and joined the US Navy following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He commandeered a torpedo boat PT-109 in the Pacific Theater in World War II, and in 1943 his boat was sliced in half and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. In the aftermath of the wreck, Kennedy rescued many of his men and in the process suffered permanent back injuries. Following the war, his father encouraged him to run for Congress, and Jack was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946, and the United States Senate in 1952. He married Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953 while recuperating from the first of several back surgeries. In 1960, JFK became the first Catholic president in US history, winning a razor-thin victory over Richard Nixon. He would lead the nation through challenging times in the Cold War as well as dealing with domestic unrest during the Civil Rights movement. His life ended too soon, killed by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. The focus of the seminar will be on the life and times of John Kennedy, the myths and the reality, as well as his extraordinary legacy.

Recommended Reading: Robert Dallek’s, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy.

Topic(s): John F. Kennedy
Instructor(s): Tim Crain

Watercolor: The Expressive Medium

August 13th - August 19th


This seminar is for novice through experienced artists. Drawing skills are useful but not required. Participants will be a part of a creative community that invites them to experiment with a wide range of traditional and non-traditional watercolor techniques and learn to create strong individualized artistic statements. Participants from previous summers are welcome to repeat this class and are welcome to focus on independent projects or work with the instructor to figure out next steps. A list of suggested materials to bring to this seminar will be sent to participants at a later date and can also be found on Björklunden’s website. There is a $35 materials fee for this course added upon registration.

Topic(s): Watercolor Painting
Instructor(s): Helen Klebesadel

Chemistry of Art - Paintings, Textiles, Stained Glass & Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts

August 27th - September 1st

Chemistry is a crucial part of the artist’s toolbox. In this seminar, we will explore the fascinating chemistry of paintings, learn the chemical reasons dyes bond to textiles, reflect on the importance of light in the experience of art, and explore the chemistry of glass and stained glass. This workshop will involve some hands-on activities and lab experiences to compliment the discussions. I will also share my research on pigment identification in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts, and discuss the current practices of scientific inquiry of artistic objects.

Topic(s): Chemistry, Art, Illumninated Manuscript
Instructor(s): Allison Fleshman

Faith Builds a Chapel: The Legacy of Winifred C. Boynton

August 27th - September 1st

The Norwegian “stavkirke” chapel is the icon of Björklunden, and sits like a jewel at the edge of the forest, facing the shore of Lake Michigan. Visitors often ask, “How did Winifred and Donald Boynton come to create such a unique work of art?” What is the story behind the chapel and the woman who conceived of it, designed and painted its frescoes, designed and helped carve its wooden pieces?

In her book, Faith Builds a Chapel: Story of an Adventure in Craftsmanship, Winifred Boynton shared “the joys and struggles, successes and failures” of creating the Norwegian stavkirke at Bjorklunden from 1939-1947. Her goal was “to bring into light the experiences of these past years, to build again with the tools of memory, our Chapel…built for the glory of God.”

This seminar will provide an in-depth study of the chapel’s creation, carvings and murals, as well as the Viking myths, Biblical passages and personal stories behind them. By reading and discussing Faith Builds a Chapel, we will “hear” the artist’s story in her own words, learning about the nine summers during which she and Don created the chapel. Using her book, the chapel itself, family archives and albums, this seminar will be held in Winifred’s studio, and will help us appreciate more fully the unique vision, creativity, spirituality and legacy of Winifred Case Boynton.

Required reading: Faith Builds a Chapel; available online and at Björklunden ($30).

Topic(s): Björklunden History
Instructor(s): Marjorie Meyers Graham

History of the Green Bay Packers

August 27th - September 1st

The seminar will look back at the 100-plus-year history of the storied Green Bay Packers. How the team survived against all odds in what has been the NFL’s smallest city almost from the inception, while also remarkably – if not miraculously – becoming the most successful franchise with its record 13 league championships. The Packers’ story is a compelling odyssey that began in 1919 when they played on an unfenced, roped-off area of Hagemeister Park and continues today in a billion-dollar industry and on the biggest stage in sports. The class will delve into the struggles the Packers faced during their first 30-plus years, when they were perpetually on their death bed, and yet at the same time examine the many pull-at-the-heartstrings stories that kept them alive. It’s a narrative with many sidebars, from the role Prohibition – or the defiance of it in Green Bay – played in the 1920s and ‘30s to the contentious battle over where to build what is now Lambeau Field because of the long, bitter rivalry between local citizens who lived either on the East Side or West Side of the Fox River. Time will be spent looking at the complex and bigger-than-life personalities of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. Nobody, for example, did more than Lambeau to keep the Packers alive, but his attempt to privatize them in early 1950 also might have been their doomsday. The most recent periods of Packers history also will be covered from the lean years of the 1970s and ‘80s to the resurrection that began in 1992.

Much like Christl’s work as a dogged, critical newspaperman this will be a no-holds barred look at the Packers’ story. More importantly, it will be an authoritative account, much like his book, “The Greatest Story in Sports,” which received a 2022 Book of Merit Award from the Wisconsin Historical Society and was widely acclaimed by critics.

Here is an example from Joel Bussert, who worked for three NFL commissioners and is now the league’s unofficial historian: “A staggering achievement. An unsurpassed historical record. A volume without which no football library is complete. This is a treasured gift. It arrived today. A package was dumped on my front porch. Ker-plunk. Carried the package indoors, straining my back in the process. Opened the package to find your landmark history of the Green Bay Packers. It's one o'clock in the morning. I'm still reading. Will I ever go to sleep tonight? Who cares?”

Topic(s): Green Bay Packer History
Instructor(s): Cliff Christl

Spore Losers: The World of Mushrooms and Non-flowering Plants

September 10th - September 15th

This week we will learn mainly about the many types of wild mushrooms in the county. Several PowerPoint color slide programs will be presented about the variety of mushrooms as well as ferns, lichens, mosses, clubmosses and liverworts.

Expect some walking into wet areas on our field trips to study these plants, so bring waterproof hiking boots and perhaps a hiking pole for steady travel. You may also want to bring a ten-power, small magnifier plus a notebook and pen. If you have any favorite field guidebooks, you can include them as well.

Topic(s): Botany, Mushrooms & Non-flowering Plants
Instructor(s): Charlotte Lukes

Writing Your Memoir  

September 10th - September 15th

Our lives are rich and complex, and we all have stories to tell. You may be interested in your own life stories, but how do you make them engaging to others? Whether you are interested in writing a personal essay or book-length memoir, learn how to shape your story with essential elements of craft such as style, structure, characterization, and dialogue. 

Topic(s): Writing, Autobiography
Instructor(s): Che'Rae Adams

Astonish us in the Morning: Artistic Collaborations in the 21st Century

September 17th - September 22nd

This course, which takes place concurrently with Lawrence’s Door Kinetic Arts Festival, will examine daring artistic collaborations in process. Every year, artists from across the country collaborate with one another and perfect projects they are working on, for one-week residencies at Björklunden. Artistic Director Eric Simonson leads a seminar which examines topics ranging from the current state of the arts in America, the future of artistic collaborations, and the value of new arts that defy categorization. Nationally recognized artists participating in the festival — which in the past have included actors Campbell Scott and Rainn Wilson, playwrights Lydia Diamond and Keith Huff, and Dance companies Lucky Plush and The Seldoms — will serve as guests, discussing and, when called on, demonstrating their talents and showcasing their current projects. This course includes a free guest pass to the arts festival, which, this year, will include dance, music, cinema, theatre, cocktails and more.

Instructor: Eric Simonson is a 1982 graduate of Lawrence University, where he majored in Theatre Arts. Today, he is an ensemble member of the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a position he maintains while working as a writer and director for film, television, theatre and opera.

Theatre directing and writing credits in theatre include work at Steppenwolf Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages in NY, The Huntington Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Kansas City Rep, The Kennedy Center, Pasadena Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Arizona Theatre, San Jose Rep and Court Theatre in Chicago. His work at Steppenwolf includes the premiere productions of his plays "Fake", "Honest", "Carter's Way”, Lindiwe”, his adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five", the critically acclaimed and nationally produced "Nomathemba" (co- written with Ntozake Shange and Joseph Shabalala), and "The Song of Jacob Zulu", which was invited to the Perth International Arts Festival, ran on Broadway, and received six Tony nominations including Best Director. Other plays include published works "Bang the Drum Slowly" and "Work Song" (co-written with Jeffrey Hatcher), which premiered at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Broadway writing credits include the hit play "Lombardi", "Magic/Bird", and "Bronx Bombers", (which he also directed).

Opera directing credits include the North American premiere of "The Handmaid's Tale" at Minnesota Opera, and world premiere productions of "The Grapes of Wrath", and "Silent Night" (Pulitzer Prize), “The Shining” and “The Fix” (for which he also wrote the libretto).

Film and television work include the documentaries, "Studs Terkel: Listening to America" (Emmy nomination); "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin", which won the Oscar for Documentary Short and received a nomination from the International Documentary Association (IDA) for Distinguished Achievement; "On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom" (Oscar nomination, IDA Award, Emmy nomination). All three films subsequently aired on HBO/Cinemax. Other films include "Hamlet" (co-directed with fellow alum Campbell Scott) for Hallmark Entertainment, and the independent feature, "Topa Topa Bluffs". Simonson has also written and developed multiple television series for HBO, FX, Starz, TNT, and USA networks, and has written and produced for TV shows “Man in the High Castle”, Homecoming” (WGA nomination for best new drama) and “Swagger”. His film “Killing Reagan” aired on NatGeo and was nominated for a National Critics Association Award.

In 2015, Simonson founded The Door Kinetic Arts Festival in Door County Wisconsin, a week- long festival dedicated to developing arts projects across many disciplines, including theatre, dance, film, opera, television and music. The festival, supported by and held in conjunction with Lawrence’s Bjorklunden Center, has so far assisted in the development of numerous nationally recognized plays, dance pieces and films.

Simonson is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Writers Guild of America and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and has been honored with the Princess Grace Foundation's Statue Award for Sustained Artistic Achievement, the Frankel Award for new play development, Lawrence’s Nathan M. Pusey Distinguished Achievement Award, and several Edgerton Foundation grants for new play development.

Topic(s): Artistic Collaboration
Instructor(s): Eric Simonson

Watercolor: A Fresh Start

September 24th - September 29th

This watercolor seminar is designed for absolute beginners as well as for those who have had some experience painting with watercolor but need a refresher to gain the confidence to start again. Explore the fall at Björklunden while enjoying this opportunity to learn or re-learn watercolor from an artist passionate about the medium in a supportive and friendly learning environment. Seminar participants will explore basic traditional approaches to watercolor painting as well as fresh and experimental wet-into-wet watercolor techniques. Seminar participants will go home with the skills and tools to keep on painting. There is a $35 materials fee for this course added upon registration.

Topic(s): Watercolor Painting
Instructor(s): Helen Klebesadel

Wildflowers and Birds

September 24th - September 29th

These two most popular nature subjects will be the object of our explorations in Door County's many beautiful parks and preserves. The early tinges of nature's fall color palette will make the scenes most picturesque. Our goal is to find as many beautiful wildflowers and birds as we can and learn about their interrelationships in their respective communities. You must be able to walk on unpaved trails for distances of two miles over a period of two and a half hours.

Topic(s): Door County Widlflowers & Birds
Instructor(s): Don Quintenz

Awake Art Week

October 1st - October 6th

Empty your cup, to fill your cup. Allow yourself the time and space to engage in mixed media art and nature. During the week we transform a hardcover book into a one-of-a-kind art journal. Come and explore upcycled, sustainable art and different art journaling techniques. Delve into materials such as inks, PanPastels, markers, paint, collage materials, ephemera, and more. You will also create one-of-a-kind Awake Art Bundles, which is a process of assemblage and listening to your inner Creative Self. Additionally, you will discover your 8 guiding archetypes. Gabrielle is the author of “Art Journal Your Archetypes,” and will guide you to learn your own. Are you The Liberator, The Healer, or The Judge? Participants will also receive a copy of the book to take home. This week is for those who like to do things a little differently and are open to a new art experience.

Topic(s): Mixed Media Art, Assemblage
Instructor(s): Gabrielle Javier-Cerulli 

Cinematic Cinderellas

October 1st - October 6th

Although there is a story of a maiden losing her shoe in the Greek tradition and a young woman who sleeps by the fireplace in Chinese history, the standard version for the American tradition is from Charles Perrault. In 1697 he published Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals (Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé), subtitled Tales of Mother Goose (Les Contes de ma Mère l’Oye). His telling with additions sometimes from the Brothers Grimm forms the basis for us. The story was locked into our tradition by the Disney animated version of 1950, but there have been many variations and recreations since. The seminar will explore these variations from Disney to Pretty Woman and beyond, investigating how the story can be adapted and modified to reflect changing roles for women and men, different expectations for courtship, and expanding career opportunities. We will range outside the strict boundaries of Cinderella to include other expressions of courtship and gender roles with The Philadelphia Story and Shakespeare in Love.

Topic(s): Cinderellas, Film Studies
Instructor(s): Doug Northrop

Best of the Bard: Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits 

October 8th - October 13th

For some theater-goers, the archaic nature of Elizabethan English can be a barrier to fully enjoying and appreciating William Shakespeare—but it needn't be, if one is aided by a handful of minor verbal translations into standard/contemporary English. And why not? Elizabethan English was, after all, contemporary to its time. And re-engaging with Shakespeare is always worth the effort, for never has there been a more gifted writer—at least, not in our tongue: with their deft dialogue, soaring soliloquies, and versatile deployment of verse, his plays and sonnets represent the apex of English-language “wordsmithery.” Shakespeare also displayed a genius for chronicling human nature; as a result, his works ring as true today as they did four centuries ago. By approaching his writing more by listening to it in performance (as, after all, was intended to be the case) and then discussing it than by reading it flat on a page, one can appreciate with particular depth the many levels of what The Bard continually accomplished in terms of form, content, theme, and impact. A screening and discussion of Joel Coen's powerful 2021 film adaptation The Tragedy of Macbeth starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand caps off a week of performance and analysis by the instructor (who is an actor as well as a scholar) plus lively class discussion. Works to be performed, heard, and studied include excerpts from Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Henry IV, Henry V, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest, as well as two sonnets. Recommended advanced reading: William Shakespeare's play Macbeth. 

This seminar was made possible, in part, by the Constance and Robert Berner Memorial Endowment for Björklunden.

Topic(s): Theatre, Literature
Instructor(s): Paul McComas

Medical Controversies: Science vs. Popular Beliefs

October 8th - October 13th

Animals and Insects have remarkable traits that will amaze all of us.
We are surviving in an environment of parasites and pathogens that can either harm or help us. We will review some of the major epidemics that have plagued humans throughout history, as well as our immune reactions to them and the antibiotics that have been developed (and more recently abused).
Finally with gene editing techniques, scientists are curing diseases like Sickle Cell and debating whether to do this with problems before birth. Theologians most welcomed here.

Topic(s): Science & Society, Medicine
Instructor(s): David W. Hines

Beginning Digital Photography

October 15th - October 20th

Making photographs with a digital camera presents the novice with an array of choices that can be intimidating. This week-long course offers beginners practical guidance on the use of cameras and field experience in the beauty of Door County autumn, as well as guidance in composing and capturing fine art images. Bring your digital camera and gain confidence and experience – from point-and-shoot models to more advanced DSLR or mirrorless models. Students will have the opportunity to learn the basics of camera controls and computer editing in common software such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. There will also be opportunities for printing your photographs.

Recommended to bring to the workshop:
· A digital camera on which to learn (point-and-shoot to DSLR or mirrorless)
· A simple tripod may be useful
· SD or other cards for the camera
· Extra batteries would be helpful and a charger or charging cable essential
· A laptop (with Lightroom or Photoshop if possible - for out of class processing of images - free trial versions are available at www.Adobe.com)

Topic(s): Digital Photography
Instructor(s): Sam Elkind, John Wylie

Film as History

October 15th - October 20th

This seminar will pose questions about historical films (e.g., Spartacus and Schindler’s List), documentaries (e.g., Night and Fog), and about what a film might reveal regarding the era in which it was made. We will discuss the obvious question of how ‘true’ or accurate a historical film or documentary might be. But we will also ask how such films, inaccuracies notwithstanding, might enhance our understanding of the individuals and events they portray. Finally, we will explore the use of films as primary sources, for all films reflect the time of their making. Seminar Films: Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960); Schindler’s List; Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, 1956); The Third Man (Carrol Reed, 1949)

Topic(s): Film Studies, History
Instructor(s): Dr. Paul Cohen

Everyone Can Improvise: Theater Games to Inspire Play, Mindfulness, and Creative Problem Solving

October 21st - October 27th

It is the process of solving a problem that releases intelligence, talent, and genius.  -Viola Spolin 

Viola Spolin’s Theater Games launched the American improvisational theater movement and revolutionized the way acting is taught. Spolin’s groundbreaking 1963 book Improvisation for the Theater remains a required text for actors, improvisers, and educators. Her work has gone on to influence countless fields beyond the theater, including therapy, science communication, and education. 

Theater Games help us access our intuition through focus, spontaneity, and play, opening up new avenues of expression in our creative work and daily life. Theatrical improvisation is not just for comedians and performers. It’s a democratic, spontaneous method of co-creation, and the experiential lessons can be incorporated by anyone willing to play. 

In this workshop, we’ll play Spolin’s on-your-feet games and exercises to help us enter the present time, creatively problem solve, and communicate with presence and authenticity. There is no pressure to perform; all experiences are integrated through play and discussion in a fun and safe environment. 

We’ll touch on some of the contemporary brain science that helps us understand how Spolin’s meditative methods regulate our nervous systems, and find ways to take her playful, calming techniques into our everyday life when we find ourselves under pressure.

We’ll cover how improvisational theater emerged from Progressive-era activism at Jane Addams’ Hull-House in Chicago through work of pioneering social worker Neva Boyd, Viola Spolin, and Paul Sills, and how Spolin inspired many breakthroughs in theater and beyond; how Spolin’s son and protege, legendary director, Paul Sills (1927-2008), founded the first and most influential improvisational theater companies in the United States, including Compass, Second City, and Story Theater; and how Spolin’s work forms the basis of the applied improvisation movement, used by innovators such as actor Alan Alda to teach scientists to communicate more effectively through at his Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. 

The workshop is open to anyone who wishes to experience the many benefits of spontaneity and group play, including: a deeper sense of connection and relation to others, a heightened ability to adapt to changing situations, and tools to help quiet the inner-authoritarian and make creative discoveries in a spirit of play and adventure.

Topic(s): Theatre, Performance, Mindfulness
Instructor(s): Aretha Sills

Poetry Booster Shot Workshop

October 21st - October 27th

Craft better poetry in an intensive five day workshop (three hours each day) with former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Bruce Dethlefsen. Writing skills will include finding inspiration, learning what makes a “good” poem, using concrete imagery, setting tone and rhythm, improving revision techniques, practicing reading poetry aloud and doing exercises in class and assignments out of class. Participants will bring and share up to ten poems that they are working on with the group to receive helpful honest feedback. No special materials are necessary. Bring a pen, some paper, maybe your laptop (no extra cost for your Muse). Copiers will be available. Poets who in the past attended Marilyn Taylor’s or Ellen Kort’s poetry sessions may well consider this opportunity. Booster Shot poets will be invited to read their work at a Thursday evening program.

Topic(s): Poetry
Instructor(s): Bruce Dethlefsen

Seminar Options & Pricing

There are many ways to experience Björklunden: you may choose to attend a seminar as a resident with room and board, take a class as a commuter and enjoy Sunday dinner here and lunches, or join as an auditor (no meals). Houseguests and children of seminar participants are also welcome to reside at the lodge. Each of these options is available for online registration at the rates indicated below. First preference on housing will be given to seminar participants. 

Viking Decade: we offer an attractive discount for recent grads of Lawrence University. Anyone from classes from 2013-2023 is welcome to join seminars at half price. Those eligible for the Viking Decade discount can extend the discount to one partner, however if staying in the lodge they must select the double occupancy option.

Rates below are for 2023 seminars.

ONLINE SEMINARS                                              $175


Sunday through Friday Seminars Sunday through Saturday Seminars (Aug 13-19)
Single $1,255 $1,470
Double $975 $1,075
Houseguest (single) $1,000 $1,070
Houseguest (double) $700 $715
Child Houseguest $200 $240
Commuter (includes Sunday dinner & lunches) $485
Auditor (tuition only; no meals) $400

Seminar Guidelines:

  • Seminar participants choose only one seminar for each week of attendance.
  • Class sizes are limited. Early registration will help ensure participants get into the seminar they prefer.  Once seminars have reached or are near capacity, they are no longer available for online registration.  You may call the lodge to find out if any spaces remain open. 
  • Registration is open to the general public – participants need not have a connection to Lawrence University in order to attend.
  • Seminar participants may either reside at the estate or commute from the area. Houseguests who reside at the estate but do not participate in seminars are also welcome though first preference on housing is given to seminar participants.
  • Participants may arrive for seminars after 4 p.m. on Sunday; seminars officially begin with dinner on Sunday evening. Instructors usually hold a “meet and greet” session with class participants after dinner on Sunday.  Please plan accordingly.
  • Classes typically meet on weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, leaving the remaining time free. Instructors may offer optional afternoon or evening sessions and have the freedom to change the typical schedule if need be.
  • Public events are often held at Björklunden on any given seminar week, which participants may be able to attend.  Details about these events will be posted at the lodge and announced during Sunday dinner. 
  • Dinner will not be served at the lodge Wednesday evening, as it is our kitchen staff’s night off. Participants are encouraged to support area businesses and sample local cuisine that night. Here are links to the Peninsula Pulse Restaurant Guide as well as articles about local establishments. Please plan accordingly.
  • Seminars end either Friday after lunch or Saturday after breakfast. Seminars ending on Saturday do not meet that morning.
  • Participants are responsible for acquiring any seminar texts and/or materials and some seminars require a materials fee. The necessary information can be found within each course description and will also be sent to participants two months before the start date of their seminar. Please note that some seminar instructors may assign coursework throughout the week.
  • Participants are responsible for bringing their own writing utensils, notebooks, folders, and any other items that will aid in taking notes and organizing class materials. Björklunden will not provide these items.
  • Björklunden may take photographs, videos, audiotape recordings, and other images and sound-based media during courses and events and may use such media for educational, promotional, advertising, and other purposes.

A Note about COVID

Björklunden adheres to the Lawrence University campus Mask Friendly Campus policy:

On our mask friendly campus, masks can be worn by anyone at any time on our campus but are not universally required. Additionally, individuals may determine their own guidelines for their individual space, meaning that:

  • Seminar leaders may require masks in classrooms based on room capacity, air ventilation, and/or personal preference.
  • Participants may require guests to wear masks in their presence.
  • Staff may require masking and/or cancellation of the remainder of a seminar week if the health of the community is threatened.

Seminar participants must be fully vaccinated and boosted. Proof of vaccination will be required before attending a seminar. Exceptions to this policy are considered on a case-by-case basis and will require evidence of a negative COVID test result immediately prior to arrival. We will follow CDC COVID protocols that are in place at the time of the seminar.