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The Nonconformist Class | AMERICA'S COOLEST SCHOOLS

Going green may finally be "normal," but some schools with eco-agendas remain miles from mainstream

By Tim McDonnell

Maharishi University of Management


Courtesy of Shane Ernest

The Beatles' onetime spiritual adviser, the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (sometimes called the "giggling guru"), founded Maharishi University of Management, in Fairfield, Iowa, as a place for "consciousness-based education." The school's buildings face east and have a central nucleus, and rooms are aligned with the sun's movement according to the strictures of an ancient Indian architectural style. The first U.S. university to offer a four-year degree in sustainable living, MUM balances modern clean technology and 5,000-year-old Vedic philosophy based on Sanskrit texts.

The dining hall serves food that's entirely vegetarian and organic. To graduate, each student is required to have maintained a plot on the campus's farm. Above, students celebrate the completion of their permaculture class with a feast made of ingredients harvested from their gardens.

Attending to the earth is hardwired into the school's signature (and trademarked!) practice, Transcendental Meditation. From it, says Robbie Gongwer, the program developer for MUM's Sustainable Living Center, "students get this subjective experience of an interconnectedness to life."


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