Field Studies Curriculum
The program is suitable for students of widely varying experience. We expect that applicants will have completed at least their first year of college. We have also had graduate students enroll in similar programs, including several who returned to complete theses on topics initiated in our curriculum. Evergreen awards 16 quarter (=10 semester) units of upper- division (junior-senior) credit for successful participation, including for Evergreen students up to 8 units of upper division credit in the natural sciences, depending on field projects selected. Students from other campuses can consult with their advisors regarding application of field studies credits toward their majors. A number of students developed their term project data and reports into capstone projects and theses, after their return to campus.
The first part of the program is quite structured, with lectures, discussions of academic readings, workshops and field exercises providing a foundation in local physical and biological processes, culture and policy. Emphasis is on the natural history field journal, which participants keep throughout the program. We teach all skills required for hiking and camping in Alaskan wilderness. Students then each participate in a small-group team, carrying out a term project largely in the field during a three-week backpacking expedition, on routes structured to facilitate project observations and data collection. Faculty define project topics, though students have considerable latitude deciding on their choice of project and their emphasis within the project group. Results of field work are synthesized during the last week of the summer, culminating with oral and written project presentations to our group, National Park Service staff, and local residents interested in our topics.
Credit is granted for the following courses:
Natural History of Alaska (4 credits)
Survey of natural history of Wrangell-St. Elias ecosystems, including an introduction to scientific, social-scientific and arts-based research methods for field studies. Introduction to Wrangell-St. Elias species identification, ecosystem characteristics (including geologic formations), and critical field skills such as generating and refining inquiry questions from on-site observations, optimizing methods, interpreting data, and presenting findings and placing research in a broader context, such as through field journaling and scientific writing.
People and Protected Areas (4 credits)
Field study, using social science research, of relationships among cultural groups and the environment and issues of sustainability. Writing creatively about protected areas, the imaginative process integrates literary, social and natural sciences. Employing regional case studies, students assess historical and contemporary thought and use of protected lands, and outcomes of different environmental policies and land/wildlife management, including human and natural consequences.
Applied Field Research on Dynamic Landscapes (8 credits)
Field investigation, using the scientific method, of environmental problems including human- environment interactions affecting Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. Extended field research on flora, fauna, biotic communities and ecological relationships, and glaciology, hydrology, geomorphology, and landscape evolution at selected sites within the park. Climate change and disturbance will be a theme throughout the various research projects.
Students are expected to:
Work collaboratively and contribute to a supportive community
Communicate creatively and effectively
Synthesize information and think critically
Apply theory to practice across disciplines