Semester In The Wild at Taylor Ranch, America's Wildest Classroom

What You'll Learn

  • What are the pre-requisites?
    English courses: Potential students must have completed first-year English composition.
  • Will the curriculum be graded?
    Yes. Transfer credit courses must be assigned grades and it is the intent of every instructor to assign letter grades.

Environmental Literature and Culture (ENG 322, 3 credits)

This course focuses on the literature and culture of the American West by engaging with some of the region’s most important environmental issues: the frontier, solitude, natural landscapes, wilderness management, and outdoor recreation. Whether it conjures images of cowboys and Indians, covered wagons and log cabins, Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody, or majestic mountains and long open roads, the American West is a complex and symbolic region that informs national identity. We will explore this complexity by reading and writing about a range of literary genres, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, journalistic prose, and scholarly writing, as well as by viewing and discussing a few of the many great films about the West.

Outdoor Leadership (CSS 404 Section 50, 3 credits)

In this course we will explore the practice of leadership, using the wilderness as a classroom. We will learn backcountry skills, develop an awareness of our own leadership preferences and learn to be effective team members. Emphasis will be placed on putting theory into practice by using the group experience as a leadership lab. Topics will include small group dynamics, decision making, communication, and expedition behavior. The goal of the course is for students to develop a leadership practice that will aid them in addressing complex challenges after their Semester In The Wild.

Environmental Writing (ENG 316, 3 credits)

Much of this class will be spent reading and discussing stories, essays, and poems. Students will do in-class writing exercises, practice taking field notes and craft imaginative works to explore their ideas on the environment and their own experiences. We will work toward developing practical approaches to the communication of ideas and information about scientific and environmental issues to general audiences.

River Ecology (FISH 404, 4 credits)

Rivers and streams in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness provide the opportunity to investigate the structure and function of watersheds in the absence of anthropogenic effects. This class will explore how the geologic settings within the west and geomorphic processes determine the fundamental shapes and structures of rivers. We will discuss the physical and chemical properties of rivers and how these are affected by regional, landscape and local processes. We will investigate the biologic characteristics and communities within these rivers. Lastly, we will observe wild Chinook salmon behaviors within Big Creek and how their life cycle becomes integrated into both the biological and physical aspects of these unique river and riparian systems.

Wilderness and Protected Area Management (CSS 490, 3 credits)

With one of the largest American wilderness areas as a classroom, this class will explore management of the different types of federal protected areas in the US. We will covers principles of US protected area policy and law; wilderness and river management planning frameworks; visitor management techniques; and tools for monitoring recreational use and impacts. We will address these topics with examples from contemporary issues in protected area management, including commercial use, the role of fire, changes in recreational demand and climate change.

Semester in the Wild offers students the chance to take courses ‘on location,’ to fully immerse themselves in what they're learning, and to learn collaboratively, with a tight-knit community of faculty and students.

Jennifer Ladino