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The Wayfinding Experience


The Wayfinding Experience



Attending the Wayfinding Academy will be unlike attending any other mainstream colleges. There will be four primary areas of engagement for students: 

  1. A core curriculum designed to help graduates discern the needs of the communities they find themselves members of, both now and as they move through their lives, and to become effective citizens and members of those communities. 
  2. A working portfolio consisting of approximately 8-10 items chosen by the student in conjunction with his or her team of advisors.
  3. Workshops and seminars (Labs) offered by rotating faculty and active community members with expertise in a variety of disciplines, to help students gain a deeper exposure to specific topics. 
  4. Community engagement through film screenings, performances, attending local events, and more, all of which will be co-produced with student participation.

While there can be no such thing as a “typical” term at a college where study is so individualized, there will be certain commonalities. During a typical three-month term (trimester), a student can expect to…

  • take 1-2 core courses (see list of planned core courses below)
  • have an internship or apprenticeship with a local business
  • work on a project of his or her choosing
  • meet regularly with a mentor
  • attend film screenings, performances, and other community events
  • register for several workshops to build skills and network

It is our goal to have each student passionately engaged in an individualized quest to complete a comprehensive portfolio of experiences. All courses and experiences will take place in person, in a face-to-face environment.  The Wayfinding Academy is not an online degree program; however, for the occasional course we do not offer on-site, students may choose to augment learning with online platforms for their individual areas of interest. As we discover common needs or desires for particular courses, we will look at developing an in-person, Wayfinder version of these classes.


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Core Curriculum

Core Curriculum


Core Curriculum

Planned Core Curriculum Courses: Each course will be a discussion-based course, which also includes educational games and simulations, exploration of select texts and films curated by the facilitator, experiential activities, and guest speakers. Each participant will engage in assignments designed to help fulfill portfolio elements or make progress towards other life goals. 

This course is focused on helping students uncover their passions and establish a starting point to become agents for positive change in the world or in his or her community. Through hands-on exploration and discussion of your values, strengths, your why, and your leadership style, we will set a foundation for the rest of your experience in the program and design a custom portfolio for each student.

Understanding Our World
[Click on the course title to learn more about the course and see a "This is Wayfinding" video about it!] 
Understanding our place in this world is not easy: We all flow along deep historical, cultural, and natural currents. This course explores these connections to deep past and brings the story up to the present so participants can see how their work is part of the Big Picture. Through reading, writing, and facilitated discussion, participants explore contemporary questions related to race, class, sexuality, ability, and gender as they clarify their personal values and discover the promise (and challenge) of global diversity.

Understanding Ourselves and Others
Every organization and every team is a collection of people working together towards one or more common goals. A foundational understanding of people and human relationships in a workplace context is vital to success in any context. This course will focus on gaining a better understanding of your personality, perceptions, and motivations as well as on how teams best function and form a strong culture.

Communicating Effectively
Individual and team success depends upon the ability of individuals to communicate with others, face to face and virtually. Every interaction with another person determines how you are perceived and every interaction is an opportunity to develop trust and exert positive influence. Whether presenting one to one or to an audience of one thousand, conveying information to a project team or delivering a difficult message, communicating effectively is one of the most powerful skills for achieving your objectives. This course develops your ability to focus on your outcome, tune in to your audience and develop your message in written and spoken form.

Engaging with Information
We live in an Information Age, with the ever-growing availability of information providing an enormous opportunity for individuals, communities, organizations and government. But the flood of often un-curated information is also a significant challenge, to our time, certainly, and often to the quality of our understanding. This course is designed to help strengthen “Information Literacy” — so better questions are asked; the sources from which data is gathered expand; the ability to turn data into information (and critically assess its quality) is deepened; and skills in communicating the resulting insights in a way that drives useful action are sharpened. Along the way, the course will review the history, and introduce the science, of information. It will explore the scientific method, reinforce the statistical tools needed for good citizenship, and review the impact of human bias. The focus will be on discussion, enriched by many hands-on, practical assignments and projects.

Science, Technology, and Society
This course investigates the social dimensions of science, technology and medicine through an emphasis on three interrelated areas: environment and sustainability; health and medicine; and information, identities and networks. The goal of this course is to develop a foundational understanding and develop a commitment to a critical approach to our world’s most pressing technoscientific challenges.

Making Good Choices
We will explore creative approaches to problem solving and decision making. You will read and write and engage in real-world issues through discussions, games, and simulations. Throughout this process you will learn to focus and clarify your personal problems and choices using lenses and tools drawn from the fields of conflict resolution, economics, social psychology, and sociology.

Futures and Citizenship
This course poses difficult questions about the future and the common good. Examine your personal role in creating a better world as you confront challenges of citizenship in the world with courage and imagination. Develop a deeper understanding of sustainability through the lens of environmental science and discover the power of social movements to solve environmental problems, offer hope, and change the world.

The Good Life
This course examines the enduring question “What is the Good Life?” from the perspectives of the humanities. Topics include the cost of the good life, how people have chosen to live as members of local and global communities, and conceptions and expressions of beauty, power, love, and health. 






In addition to the core curriculum consisting of 9-courses, we will have an ever-changing sequence of workshops and seminars hosted at the Wayfinding Academy or around Portland that we call Labs. Most of these will be taught by guest instructors who are experts in their field and the offerings will be based on the interest of the students who are enrolled that particular year. Some examples of Labs we anticipate offering in partnership with local organizations include: 

    •    Travel Hacking for Beginners
    •    How to Succeed with Money
    •    Citizenship and Social Change
    •    Tech Tools for Life
    •    Goal Setting and Legacy Work
    •    How to Fund Your Idea: Crowdfunding
    •    Art Therapy for Life
    •    Language Hacking
    •    Introduction to Podcasting

To see our schedule and register for an upcoming Lab click on the button below:






Each student will graduate with a completed portfolio consisting of approximately 8-10 items selected by the student in conjunction with his or her advisory team. Each project will fit in the framework of the 5 specific themes.

Explore: projects in this category will ask students to stretch and go beyond their comfort zone. 

Teach: students will be asked to share with the greater Wayfinding community something they are passionate about.

Serve: projects or events that a student will lead and coordinate to benefit others or a specific cause they are care about.

Create: students will have the opportunity to produce and create something new in our world. This could be a service, an invention, artwork, etc... 

Reflect: students will be asked demonstrate and share personal growth in their journey

Students will document and then showcase their collective projects through a polished website-style portfolio that can be shared with family members, friends, prospective employers, mentors, admissions programs, and more.

Portfolios might include:

  • Internship or apprenticeship in a field of interest to you
  • Planning an event for a community you feel connected to 
  • Attending a conference or workshop in an area of interest to you
  • Teaching a course or workshop in an area of your expertise 
  • An infographic depicting your educational pathway and goals
  • A short film you created on a topic of interest to you 
  • A written piece of work or collection of pieces (e.g., a blog) in your area of interest
  • Artwork you create for a gallery show or for other form of display
  • Professional video recording of a performance or to show the creation of a product
  • Interactive Prezi presentation on a topic relevant to your goals
  • Graphic design work you did for an organization or event
  • Website you built for an organization or for yourself
  • Articles you wrote that were published online or in a newspaper or magazine
  • Research project on a topic of interest to you
  • Creation of a personal vision statement and annual review process
  • Service learning with an organization related to your interests