Garrett Broad

Top 5 Reasons to Join the Ashoka U Scholars Writing Retreat

By Garrett Broad, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University

The Ashoka Scholars Writing Retreat will be held from June 10-13, 2019. Priority deadline for applications is February 11, with a second deadline of March 11.

I’ll admit it – when I walked into the first-ever Ashoka U Scholars Writing Retreat last summer, I set my expectations pretty low. Worst case scenario, I figured, I could get a few pages of writing done and enjoy the fresh air up in Vermont. By the end of the retreat, I was so thrilled with the experience that I was already plotting how I could find my way back. I’ll be there in June, as a facilitator this time. Here are the top five reasons why you should make the trip too.

1. Supercharged Writing Productivity

Academics tend to set lofty writing goals, but the crunch of the semester and the pace of life often gets in the way. We look to the summer months as a chance to catch up, but sunny days and new course preps make that a tall order too. With dedicated and focused writing time, you can get more done in three days of the writing retreat than you might normally accomplish over a few months. That was the case for the paper I started on the trip (currently under peer review).

2. Bread Loaf is Beautiful

Up in the Green Mountain National Forest in Ripton, Vermont, the Bread Loaf campus has been one of the nation’s premiere writing retreat destinations for nearly 100 years. Literary greats such as Robert Frost, Eudora Welty, and Richard Wright are among the countless writers who have found inspiration in the calm and energizing landscape. The newly restored Bread Loaf Inn helps sets the historic scene even further. If you can’t write there, you can’t write anywhere.

3. Smart and Interesting People Surround You

Last year’s retreat included scholars and thinkers with interdisciplinary and international backgrounds — including a biologist, regional planner, public health practitioner, communication scholar, environmental economist, higher education administrator, Ashoka U scholar-practitioner, and more. We also shared some meals and interacted with attendees of the Middlebury June Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, held concurrently at Bread Loaf, giving us a great opportunity to make new friends and colleagues with overlapping interests in social innovation and social change. After a hard day of work, we also kicked back in the “barn” and had great conversations over drinks until the late-night hours.

4. Top-Notch Catering Helps

The enemy of writing is distraction, and there’s nothing more distracting than an empty stomach. No need to worry — Bread Loaf is staffed by Middlebury College’s dining services, ranked one of the best in the nation. Fresh-made meals are served throughout the stay, with a mix of simple healthy options, gourmet entrees, and more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. The chefs are also very accommodating of dietary restrictions, as this vegan can attest. Plus plenty of coffee whenever you need it!

5. Social Innovation Research Matters

If you are already connected to the Ashoka U network, you know about its mission to leverage the power of colleges and universities to advance positive social and environmental impact. The Ashoka U Scholars Writing Retreat highlights one of the most important functions of higher education — to create and disseminate high-quality research on the issues that matter. If you are looking for a chance to contribute your scholarly perspectives to Ashoka U and to the broader social innovation community, there is no better way to get involved.