Friendship and Nature

Credit: Anita Ritenour,
Photo credit: Anita Ritenour,

December 1 - 3, 2017

Friendship and nature are two things that factor significantly into our daily lives, but that are rarely considered alongside each other. Why should we think about these two aspects of our lives in conjunction?

Registration includes course materials, admission and two lunches at Red Rock State Park, as well as a lovely Saturday evening wine and cheese reception.



 We often think about nature as opposed to human society, as a place to escape the clamor of society and its technological creations. But nature can also be a place where our most lasting human relationships are forged and fostered, and this is particularly the case in our age of increased technological interaction. Furthermore, we can think about whether our concept of friendship, based on human interactions, can be applied to non-human aspects of the natural world. For example think of a group like Friends of the Forest in Sedona; what might it mean to be friends with a forest, or a species, or even non-living entities such as Sedona’s red rocks?

What is the nature of human friendship?
What might experiences of immersion in nature add to human friendships?
How might we apply the nature of human friendship to the non-human natural world?

In order to guide our reflections we’ll look at writings from the history of philosophy, all the way from Aristotle and Cicero to Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir, as well as from more recent thinkers such as Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, and E.O. Wilson.

We will also watch the film Into the Wild, as well as a clip from AMC’s Hell on Wheels, a series about the building of the transcontinental railroad. And we’ll consider friendships forged in the most challenging of wilderness expeditions. All of this, however, will be with an eye to developing our own views of the fascinating issues at the intersection of our two overarching themes.

See the itinerary

Friday Afternoon December 1, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.

2:00 – 2:30 p.m. We will meet at the Smoke Trail Parking area of Red Rock State Park. (The Twin Cypress Ramada, which precedes the Smoke Trail Parking area has restroom facilities if needed.)

2:30 – 4:30 p.m. We will take the Smoke Trail to the outdoor classroom. Overview of weekend experience including key philosophical concepts and themes. (20-30 minutes)

We will hike trails that include breathtaking views and access to pristine Oak Creek. We will introduce the ideas of a variety of philosophers and theories relevant to the theme.

Saturday Morning (9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.)

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. We will meet at the Miller Visitor Center at Red Rock State Park.

9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. We will hike trails and discuss more advanced topics in outdoor seating areas by overlooks.

We will walk around the historic House of Apache Fire and reflect on the human presence in nature.

We will continue back to the Visitor Center where we will have a picnic lunch.

Reflection and Preparation

Tour the Red Rock State Park Visitor Center to learn about the local flaura, fauna, and geology.

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Wine and cheese reception at Enchantment Resort.


Sunday Morning 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

8:30 – 9:00 a.m. We will meet at the Miller Visitor Center at Red Rock State Park

Hikes and discussions in outdoor classroom and along creek.

We will conclude with reflection and discussion over a picnic lunch at the Cypress Ramada

Ask about the friendship and nature reatreat:



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