The historic Sheldon Jackson campus, now the Sitka Fine Arts campus: center of operations for Outer Coast

In Sitka, on the coast of southeast Alaska, a young group of visionaries has worked for over three years to launch a new, non-traditional college: Outer Coast. Observing that the fundamental mission of many current schools has “faded,” Outer Coast’s prospectus sets forth its purpose:

“We have a vision for something better. Outer Coast will be an institution of learning and teaching, of personal and intellectual growth, of hard work and responsibility. Outer Coast graduates will share a universal vocation: making virtuous change in the world.”

Following the model of California’s Deep Springs College, the instruction of Outer Coast’s small student cohorts will build on three pillars: student self-governance, rigorous liberal arts training, and active service and labor in the local community.
An Outer Coast planning meeting in Allen Hall on the Sitka Fine Arts Campus

Recognizing that degree-wielding scholars are not necessarily also good teachers, this institution will also prioritize the craft of pedagogy and constantly strive for “neuron-bending” instruction.

Outer Coast founder (and Alaska State Representative) Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins and visiting fellow Erin Slomski-Pritz joined us for an interview to discuss the current status and vision for the school, the influence of Deep Springs, challenges with accreditation, and more. (Scroll down for audio)

Core members of the Outer Coast team (left to right): Cecilia Dumouchel, Erin Slomski-Pritz, Johnny Elliott, Bryden Sweeney-Taylor, and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins