UWO’s 3rd Annual Free School is Tomorrow


For the last two years, residents of the Fox Valley have been welcomed to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s campus for a day of free classes. 2016’s Free School attracted approximately 100 participants, and 2017’s attracted 200. The students of SEAC (Student Environmental Action Coalition) are creating a third Free Schoo l for 2018: On Saturday, March 1 0th, from 1pm to 5pm, UWO’s Sage Hall will house free classes on topics related to sustainability, health, social justice, and community building. An “exp ress yourself room” with craft supplies and multiple kids’ activities will be provided. The Free School also includes an unscheduled classroom, in which volunteers can spontaneously offer classes on the day of the event.

There is no charge for the classes , snacks, or supplies. The spirit of “freedom” also permeates the course offerings: instructors are students, professors, and community members who have donated their time and expertise free of charge. Classes range from “Greening Your Kitchen” to “Tae Kwon Do”; from “Introduction to Islam” to “Skin Healing Herbs and Lotions.” One class has participants rolling around campus in wheelchairs; another has them making crafts out of old t -shirts. The theme of sustainability — broadly construed to include environmental concerns, health, community building, and justice — governs the day.

Dr. Laura Hartman, faculty advisor for SEAC, supports the high impact event. “It’s clear that we need to build better, stronger, more sustainable communities,” she explains, “bu t the knowledge, skills, and community connections to get there seem hard to come by. The Free School says: collectively we have knowledge and skills, so let’s teach and learn from one another.”

The Free School occurs on Saturday, March 10th, from 1pm to 5pm. Participants may come for the whole afternoon or just a part of it. It is held at Sage Hall (835 High Ave) on the UWO campus. Parking on campus is free on Saturdays, but participants are encouraged to use public transit, bike, or walk. Free snacks and kids workshops are provided as facilities permit. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Laura Hartman at hartmanl@uwosh.edu or 920 -424 -0768. Also visit the Free School’s Facebook page:


Photo from previous Free School courtesy of UW Oshkosh


About Author

Paul Van Auken

Paul Van Auken has been a member of the sociology and environmental studies faculty at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh since 2007, after completing a Ph.D. in sociology from UW-Madison. A native of Iowa but resident of Wisconsin since 1999, Paul conducts research on issues related to neighborhood, community, land use planning and access to public space, sustainability, and teaching and learning. He also practices public sociology, regularly writing a column called “Shortening the Distance” for Oshkosh Independent. He is currently living in the central city of Milwaukee while on sabbatical and among other things is writing about Oshkosh through the lens of his experiences there.

Leave A Reply