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It began with a quest.

Our mission is to integrate liberal arts

studies with an environmental emphasis, enabling those we serve to address the challenges of the future.

Our goal is to be the nation’s leading environmental liberal arts college.

Our past is an integral part of the future. Northland College continues to examine itself — to look forward, to consider innovations, and to expand opportunities. It does so while recognizing its traditions and distinctive environmental mission. The students, faculty, staff, and all those who support the educational mission of the school continue to strive for educational excellence in a unique natural setting as have generations before them and as will generations to come. 1972


2010 2010



Northland’s history reflects its character. In 1906, Northland was the only liberal arts college across the entire Great Lakes region, from Green Bay to Lake Superior, across Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. It was not named for an individual or city but for a great region: an area devastated by the cut over of its native forests.

Wheeler Hall, built in 1892, is an original campus building that was renovated in 1993 and 1994 to preserve its historical character and is still the centerpiece of campus.

“Mark now. These people are not quitters. They are the stuff that American pioneers have always been made of; they are not afraid of work and the records they make in Northland and other colleges, and in their chosen fields after graduation, give ample proof that they have quality.” — N.B. Dexter, January 1947

Peter Weishampel, Ph.D., instructs students in his Vegetation Management course.

Northland has an innovative curriculum. Northland faculty are the best in their fields. “Being a professor at Northland means teaching is the most important part of your professional life; helping students learn is paramount. At Northland you have the latitude to do this in a variety of ways. You can structure your class so that it is lecture, discussion, lab intensive, includes lots of field experiences, et cetera. I can’t imagine a better place to teach geosciences.”

Bruce Goetz Professor of Geoscience At Northland since 1969

Our liberal arts curriculum is built on a foundation that emphasizes connections. It is distinctive for its integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to general education, environmental sustainability, and innovative academic majors. Our experienced faculty immerse students in real world complexities that develop the habits of mind and heart required to negotiate these complexities with success. They prepare students for a rewarding future in whatever fields they choose. At the heart of this program are the Connections Curricula—Natural Connections, Growing Connections, and Superior Connections. Each curriculum includes nine courses, eight of which are taught in integrated block formats and one of which focuses specifically on experiences beyond the classroom. Students select and complete either Natural, Growing, or Superior Connections in their first two years at Northland.

Academic Majors Art Biology Business Education Environmental Chemistry Environmental Geosciences Humanities Humanity and Nature Studies Mathematical Sciences Native American Studies Natural Resources Outdoor Education Sociology and Social Justice Sustainable Community Development Writing and English

Other Programs Pre-Dentistry Pre-Law Pre-Medicine Pre-Ministry Pre-Veterinary Engineering (dual degree program)

View a full list of academic minors and individual departments at

Student experiences lead to success. Northland students have the opportunity to learn inside and outside of the classroom. Our innovative curriculum and hands-on experiences challenge students to become leaders in their careers.

Northland Students explore, contribute, renew, and think in terms of “What if?”

“Northland scholarships and financial aid have allowed me to actually attend not just a school, but a good school where I can get the training and education I need for my field of study. Because I have been able to attend Northland, I believe I will have no problem in pursuing and finding success in my future career.” Nikolaus Myhra-Edwards `13 Natural Resources (pictured right)

“Transferring to Northland from another institution’s education department has made me appreciate the atmosphere that Northland provides. Being able to take classes with the same group of people every day allows for greater interaction, which in turn enhances our learning, as well as our love for the career. The Education staff at Northland is second to none. Professors are knowledgeable and approachable people and allow students to feel at ease inside and outside of the classroom setting. The professors have made my first year at Northland very enjoyable. I look forward to finishing my degree at Northland.” Shane Buckley `12 Elementary Education

“Northland College is a great stepping stone to discover who you are and who you will become. The atmosphere is so encouraging to free yourself to create, discover, and live.” Ashley Langer `12 Environmental Chemistry

Meet more students at

“Small classes give me an opportunity to get to know each of my students and link my research interests with our course material.” — Paula Spaeth, Ph.D.

Scott Wold `09 is a law student at Vermont Law School. He spent much of his Northland undergraduate career involved with the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute (SOEI). He spent three years working for SOEI, eventually becoming an intern there. Scott was also elected president of the Northland College Student Association and completed an internship with the North Country Trail Association. Scott Wold `09 Environmental Studies

Our graduates are well prepared. Northland alumni are busy around the world making a difference. They use their experiences at Northland to make sophisticated decisions and solve complex problems. Northland alumni are involved in their communities as government leaders, entreprenuers, and volunteers. Many alumni are highly involved with the Northland College Alumni Association, which is dedicated to advancing the goals of Northland College by providing connection, cooperation, and collaboration between alumni, students, faculty, staff, and the Northland community.

Christine Svetkovich `98 has served in a variety of policy, technical, and scientific positions at both state and international levels. After earning a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Northland, Christine obtained an M.S. in Environmental Studies from Evergreen State College. She began her career as a researcher with the Washburn-Bayfield League of Women Voters and as an intern with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. In Washington State, she was a researcher with the Department of Ecology and investigated technical issues and public health concerns related to persistent bio-accumulative toxic chemicals; she was also a lobbyist for the People for Puget Sound. Christine later spent time in the Peace Corps as an environmental educator in the Siberian region of the Russian Far East. After returning to the United States, she took a position in the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, where, for the past several years, she has worked as a water quality lobbyist. Christine is an outstanding environmental professional and a rising star in the Pacific Northwest.

Christine Svetkovich `98 Environmental Studies

View other alumni profiles at

Northland puts its values into action. On August 27, 1971, after the celebration of the first Earth Day, Northland College hosted its first environmental conference. Among those invited to address the two-day conference were Senator Gaylord Nelson and Sigurd F. Olson. The conference became “the instrument of origin of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute,� said Robert Matteson, founder of the Institute. With energy to move in an exciting and new direction, the Institute opened its doors in the spring of 1972, embarking on more than three decades of serving Northland College and the Lake Superior region. The Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute has a long history of combining programs, workshops, and outreach activities to assist with environmental protection and restoration in the Lake Superior region. Working collaboratively with private landowners, businesses, public agencies, and tribal governments, Northland College faculty, staff, and students use a unique interdisciplinary approach to assess, monitor, and plan for the sustainability of natural resources into the future.

Sigurd Olson Environmental First Apostle Islands Institute School held. opens.

First Lake Superior Youth Symposium held at Northland. 1994



Land stewardship outreach services begin.

North American Loon Fund endowment established for the Sigurd T. Olson Loon Research Award.

Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership formed.









Project LoonWatch begins.

U.S. Secretariat position for the Lake Superior Binational Forum created at Northland College.

Northern Forest Restoration program begins.

Great Lakes Forest Ecosystem Health Indicator Project established.

Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council awards SOEI and the city of Ashland Long Term Partnership award for their work on Urban Forestry Project.



“I have spent the last three years working at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute gaining actual experience for my field of interest. I’ve worked there ever since my freshmen year on a variety of projects such as shoreline and stream bank restoration, invasive species control, and storm water management solutions. I’ve also attended the Society of Wetland Scientists annual conference as well as several workshops pertaining to my desired career. After graduating from Northland College I will pursue my Masters in Wetland Restoration.” Lee Hengescht `11 Natural Resources

Grant Herman, director of programs at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, teaches an Outdoor Education course.

LoonWatch protects common loons and their aquatic habitats through education, monitoring, and research. Education and research activities extend across the Upper Great Lakes region. Annually, more than 240 citizen monitors survey the health and habitat of the common loon on more than 300 lakes.

Our programs solve complex issues. Land and Water Stewardship

Lake Superior Binational Forum

The Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute has a long history of combining programs, workshops, and outreach activities to assist with environmental protection and restoration in the Lake Superior region. Working collaboratively with private landowners, businesses, public agencies, and tribal governments, Northland College faculty, staff, and students use a unique interdisciplinary approach to assess, monitor, and plan for sustainable natural resources into the future.

Northland has hosted the U.S. offices of the Binational Forum since 1992. The Lake Superior Binational Forum is a model partnership of 24 volunteer members from various sectors, including small businesses, environmental organizations, industry, Native Americans, First Nations, and academia. Its purpose is to provide input and analysis to the governments about critical issues relating to Lake Superior such as discharge of toxic substances, pollution prevention, and restoration efforts.

Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award To celebrate Sigurd Olson’s literary legacy, Northland’s Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute has recognized remarkable environmental literature that captures the spirit of the human relationship with the natural world and promotes the values that preserve and restore the land for future generations. Annually, two awards are distributed, one for adult literature and one for children’s literature.

Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership The Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute is the host of The Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership: a growing coalition of 14 partner agencies across the south shore of Lake Superior in the Chequamegon Bay of northern Wisconsin that are tackling environmental issues affecting the near shore waters of Lake Superior and the associated watersheds.

Visit the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at

Our results speak for themselves. U.S. News & World Report: 2011 Best Colleges Northland College ranked within the top tier of “Best Liberal Arts Colleges” in this national review of colleges and universities. To qualify, each liberal arts institution must emphasize undergraduate education and award at least 50 percent of their degrees in the liberal arts. The Princeton Review: 2011 Best in the Midwest Northland College is one of the 152 nationally recommended “Best in the Midwest” colleges by The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review: 2011 Green Honor Roll Northland College is one of only of 18 campuses to receive a perfect score in this survey of environmentally friendly schools. Criteria used by The Princeton Review includes the percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic, or otherwise environmentally preferable food, whether new buildings are required to be LEED certified for environmental friendliness, and whether the school employs a full-time sustainability officer. Sierra Magazine: 2011 Cool Schools Schools are featured for their efforts to stop global warming and operate sustainably. Northland placed 7th on the list. The magazine spotlights the schools that are making a true difference for the planet and is the magazine’s fourth annual listing of the greenest universities and colleges in the United States. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Standard The newly renovated Dexter Library is one of the first buildings in Wisconsin to achieve LEED Gold ranking.

Learn more about Northland’s success at

The library is equipped with a 14kw photovoltaic solar array to produce energy for the building.

Become a part of Northland’s Future. Northland’s dedication to educating young leaders, its commitment to the values of environmental sustainability, and its steady voice in a wilderness of global economic and environmental challenge, makes Northland College an institution of distinction.

Northland College 1411 Ellis Avenue Ashland, WI 54806-3999 (800) 318-2583


It began with a quest. studies with an environmental emphasis, enabling those we serve to address the challenges of the future. Our mission...

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