Experiential Education: Supporting Curiosity

How can we unify and prioritize Experiential Education within existing school structures?

This project took place in New York, NY
Project Location

New York, NY

A teacher shows a class how to play basketball

The principles of Experiential Education were written into the original Guide for Riverdale by founder Frank Hackett in 1949, and these principles continue to shape curriculum development today. Riverdale’s Experiential Education model strives to foster global citizens who examine local, international, and intercultural issues to help change the world for good. In Fall 2020, the Experiential Education team was formed and, with the support of PLUSSED, created a unifying mission and framework to expand and coordinate the opportunities for student-led, interdisciplinary experiential learning across Riverdale’s divisions.

Growth in world citizenship is a cumulative process and should be a goal of education at every age.

How it Started

The Experiential Education Team—composed of leaders from global studies, service learning, outdoor education, and sustainability—and PLUSSED worked to develop and communicate a shared philosophy and approach to experiential education at Riverdale and determine the knowledge, skills, and patterns of thought for students.

Where it is Now

Riverdale is currently piloting school-wide system shifts that make space in the school calendar for all students to engage in rich off-campus learning experiences. These shifts were an outcome of a design thinking session with faculty facilitated by PLUSSED to explore the possibilities of removing historic barriers—such as time and cost—from sustaining successful experiential programs.

What’s Next

As Riverdale develops more opportunities for students to experience immersive education, the PLUSSED team is gathering feedback and offering insights on the new initiatives to support their iteration, expansion, and endurance.


Jake Crowley-Delman, Miriam Piña, Kelley Nicholson-Flynn, Elizabeth Pillsbury, Rachel Klein, Chime Dolma, Angela Costanzo

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