Sunlit Sessions

Rollins had an outdoor classroom before it was cool. This semester, the College added six more alfresco spots to the mix to take advantage of the year-round sunny weather on America’s most beautiful campus.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

With 236 days of sunshine and many more days over 70 degrees than not, America’s most beautiful campus is setting the standard in outdoor learning. In addition to the College’s original outdoor classroom outside Orlando Hall, we’ve created six new open-air classrooms, where more than 40 classes were taught this past fall in everything from philosophy and ethics to religion and economics.

“Students get to interact in smaller groups as the professor has more space to move around outside in ample space and open air that make it COVID-safe,” says chemistry professor Ellane Park, whose favorite spot is on Bush Lawn, where a large tent shades sessions in Intro to Chemistry and Chemistry of the Nano-world.

Mia Brady ’22 found it helpful to be outside for classes like Biosphere and Ecological Design, overlooking Lake Virginia’s myriad wet habitats from both the patio behind the Cornell Fine Arts Museum and the lakeside beach, where she got to observe the environment in action.

“It was so cool to take these classes outside because we were surrounded by the subjects we were talking about,” says Brady, an environmental studies major and coordinator of Rollins’ Sustainability Program who’s looking forward to taking outdoor classes again in the spring. “The material really came alive.”

Here’s a closer look at Rollins’ collection of outdoor classrooms, where morning sun, afternoon breezes, and steady wireless signals combine with the wafting scents of roses and jasmine to create a liberal arts learning experience unlike any other.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

The Beach

Between the Lake Virginia shoreline and the Alfond Swimming Pool stretches Rollins’ very own beach, where students this semester have discussed everything from the Scientific Revolution to philosophy of the mind with their toes in the sand. Tars in environmental studies professor Emilly Nodine’s Biosphere class even had the opportunity to witness a classic case of interference competition IRL when an anhinga bullied a great egret off the dock.

Cool classes taught here:

  • Biology of Iceland
  • Biosphere
  • Horror in Literature and Film
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Zombies, Serial Killers, and Madmen

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Bush Lawn

The sprawling grassy expanse in front of the Bush Science Center invites socially distanced students to gather under an equally sprawling tent for shade, with their laptops and headsets at the ready as they ponder everything from public relations to nanotechnology.

Cool classes taught here:

  • Chemistry I
  • Chemistry of the Nano-world
  • New Media and Public Relations

Photo by Luke Woodling ’17MBA Photo by Luke Woodling ’17MBA

Cornell Hall for the Social Sciences (CSS) Patio

The Tarpotle-patio-turned-outdoor-classroom is perfect for Rollins’ small classes, which overlook the tucked-away courtyard that doubles as one of our favorite outdoor study spots.

Cool classes taught here:

  • Elementary Chinese Conversation
  • Quantitative Analysis

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Beach Volleyball Court

The site of epic serves, sets, and spikes has transformed into a high-tech spot perfect for socially distanced learning, where students grab a folding chair on their favorite sandy spot, spread out, and engage in meaningful discussion on everything from moral philosophy to the effects of globalization.

Cool classes taught here:

  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Ethics and Social Justice
  • Middle East Culture
  • Problems in Political Thought

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Cornell Fine Arts Museum Patio

The scenic patio of Florida’s only teaching museum overlooks Lake Virginia, where cool breezes whip into action as often as the state’s wet habitats, which is perfect for Springs, Swamps, and Sinkholes. Nearby, student art installations touch on some of the provocative themes explored in Religion, Economics, Sex, Law, and Power.

Cool classes taught here:

  • Ecological Design
  • Medical Ethics
  • Religion, Economics, Sex, Law, and Power
  • Springs, Swamps, and Sinkholes

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

CSS North Patio

This outdoor corridor outside the anthropology and sociology departments is doubling as a classroom that features spaced-out chairs, a podium, and superstrong Wi-Fi. This fall, psychology professor Rachelle Yankelevitz used it as the perfect setting to demonstrate reward-seeking behavior with her Yorkshire terrier during her Comparative Animal Behavior course.

Cool classes taught here:

  • Comparative Animal Behavior
  • Globalization
  • History of the Theatre
  • International Law