For their October Natural Building class, a group of 12 MUM Sustainable Living students traveled to the Texas desert, where they spent 11 days constructing a 14 x 14ft. adobe house made primarily from local materials.
Working with their instructor, MUM Sustainable Living Workshop Director Mark Stimson, the students began their work on campus, creating a plan and estimating the amount of materials they would need. For the post-and-beam frame, they harvested and trimmed dead spruce trees on campus. They also prepared and canned all their food in advance.
Another major project before they left: learning metalwork so they could make machetes for harvesting the river cane they would need for thatching the roof.
The desert site is just north of Big Bend National Park, 80 miles from the nearest town on a road too rugged for ordinary cars.
They traveled from the MUM campus in Fairfield, Iowa, via the Sustainable Living Department bus, which is powered by biodiesel fuel that was made by the students and staff member Steve Fugate.
Once on site, the students learned to sift the soil used for the bricks, moisten it with water, and then use forms to create the bricks. Once skilled, they were able to make a brick in less than a minute. But then the 850 bricks — all 17,000 lbs. of them — had to be carried up a long hill. The students formed a chain, and accomplished the task with aplomb.
Then they harvested local giant river cane (Arundo donax) with the machetes they’d made. Tied into bundles, the river cane served as a waterproof thatched roof. The finished adobe house will be used as a bunkhouse and field research station.
MUM’s block system — one full-time course per month — makes it easy for students to undertake intense projects like this, along with internships and other classes that involve travel.
In addition to learning practical construction skills, the students had the opportunity to experience an extraordinary landscape that includes deep vertical canyons, distant mountains, and rock-outcroppings dating back 500 million years, fossils, petrified wood, and a hot spring on the Rio Grande River.
"It was a transformative experience," Mr. Stimson said. "They’ve never seen anything like this desert, with its vast scale. The heights and distances reset your perspective on things."
"The students were confronted with many challenges in this remote desert region," said Stimson, "but in the process they learned a lot about teamwork, leadership, self-sufficiency, and how to be flexible in the changing conditions they encountered."
Sustainable Living Co-director Lonnie Gamble says: “We’re learning how to use local natural materials….More broadly, we’re also learning about how we can work with Nature, how we can connect with Nature….At MUM, we also have an inner connection with Nature through Transcendental Meditation.”
For more videos about MUM’s unique system of Consciousness-Based education, visit our Video Café: http://www.mum.edu/video-cafe
Maharishi University of Management (MUM) offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, sciences, business, and humanities. The University is accredited through the doctoral level by the Higher Learning Commission.
Founded in 1971 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the University features Consciousness-Based education to develop students’ inner potential. All students and faculty practice the Transcendental Meditation technique, which extensive published research has found boosts learning ability, improves brain functioning, and reduces stress.
Maharishi University uses the block system in which each student takes one course at a time. Students report they learn more without the stress of taking 4-5 courses at once.
The University has a strong focus on sustainability and natural health, and serves organic vegetarian meals. The B.S. in Sustainable Living is MUM’s most popular undergraduate major.
Maharishi University of Management http://www.mum.edu
Consciousness-Based education http://www.mum.edu/cbe/
Transcendental Meditation http://www.mum.edu/tm.html
Block system http://www.mum.edu/cbe/bloc…
Natural health http://www.mum.edu/cbe/natu……
Organic veg meals http://www.mum.edu/campus/d…
BS Sustainable Living http://www.mum.edu/sustaina…