Westminster Expedition Trades Classrooms for a Road Trip Across the West
Aug 31, 2017On the first day of fall semester classes, history professor Jeff Nichols was wearing a tie-dye T-shirt, hooking a trailer full of camping gear to a van and splitting town. Nichols wasn’t alone. Environmental studies professor Brent Olson, 14 students and one program assistant all piled into two vans for a semester-long class on the road that explores some of the most intriguing sites across the American West. During Westminster’s inaugural Expedition class, students will delve into topics of environmental cooperation and conflict, landscape and meaning, Native nations and public lands. "The best learning happens when we are immersed in experiences,” said Jeff Nichols, Ph.D., history professor and Expedition coordinator. “Traveling to extraordinary places and talking with the people who live and work there will illuminate complex human and environmental issues.” The group will tour iconic sites like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks as well as contentious places like Little Bighorn and Bears Ears. They will see Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. At each location, the class will meet with local residents and experts (including Native leaders), writers, scholars, activists, elected officials and government land managers. During their road trip, the class will not only study the sites, but also work on photo essays, journals, essays and research papers that they will present when they return to campus. “Today, the Western environment and our cherished public lands are threatened,” said Brent Olson, environmental studies associate professor and co-coordinator of the Expedition. “We designed the Westminster Expedition to offer each student a unique learning experience and to build a community of impassioned scholars dedicated to building a better future for the West." Students are already reporting back about Expedition with dispatches from the field submitted on Instagram.
Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.