Course code:

HS4043

Level:

MA - Intermediate/Advanced

Class size limit:

9

Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Typically offered:

Upon occasion

Wilderness has been the clarion call for generations of environmentalists. In a letter in support of the Wilderness Act, writer Wallace Stegner characterized the importance of wilderness as an essential “part of the geography of hope.”

That single phrase and the current controversy surrounding the concept of wilderness provide the central focus of our explorations of wilderness in western lands.

This course examines the question of wilderness from multiple perspectives in the hopes of providing an understanding of both the concept and real spaces that constitute wilderness. Through conversations with wilderness managers, field work, and experience in federally designated wilderness areas in National Parks, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges and on BLM lands, the course will also examine what “wilderness management” means on the ground in the varied landscapes of the western United States. In this context, we look at historical and contemporary acco unts of the value of wilderness, ecological and cultural arguments for wilderness, and the legal and policy difficulties of “protecting” wilderness.

Considerable time is spent evaluating current criticisms of the wilderness idea and practice. The class will culminate at a week-long national conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Conference provides an incomparable opportunity for students to hear from and interact with federal management agencies, academics, recreation experts, and environmental advocacy organizations.

Presenting their final course work at this conference will also give students an opportunity to share their ideas and to receive valuable feedback from this sophisticated and well-informed audience of wilderness experts. Classwork emphasizes hands-on service-learning projects as well as reading, writing, and theoretical discussions.

Students will be evaluated on journal entries, contributions to the class discussions, response papers, engagement in field activities, questions in the field, and contributions to group work. This course will be integrated with and requires co-enrollment in Reading the West and Ecology and Natural History of the West.

View photos from the Great West course on Instagram. 

 

Prerequisites:

Ecology, Our Public Lands, and permission of instructor and concurrent enrollment.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.