Westminster Expedition Students in the Open American West

During the 2017 Fall Semester, 14 students, two professors, and a program coordinator will load books, camping gear, and themselves into a couple of vans and hit the road for a semester-long tour of the American West.

The trip is designed as an exploration into the issues at the heart of the contemporary West. Students will earn 16 credits in environmental studies and history as they study Environmental Cooperation and Conflict, Landscape and Meaning, the History of Public Lands, and the Native West.

This prolonged journey into the field will allow us to learn directly from landscapes and ecosystems, as well as from people who live, work, and study in those places. Together, we expect to build a cohort of impassioned scholars with a particular breadth and depth of experiential knowledge who are equipped to build a better future for the West.

We will visit iconic, protected sites like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, contentious places like the Little Bighorn and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, working landscapes like the Butte Copper Mines, and communities from present-day Native nations to "New West" towns like Bend, Twisp, and Moab.

Meet the Expedition

Learn More About the Students and Faculty on the Expedition

Read the Latest Journal Entry

Elhom Gosink

January 6, 2016

Elhom GosinkElhom Gosink ('17) is a political science major passionate about people. "I've always been interested in people, particularly international politics and human rights." Pursuing a college education was always a part of her plan, but she knew there were obstacles in her way and that she needed help.

Elhom applied to Westminster and was accepted into the Honors College. Receiving a scholarship solidified her choice to attend. "Scholarships have allowed me to fully receive the college experience," she said. "I've been able to be a part of the Westminster community without having that fear of 'how am I going to pay for college?'"

Elhom has jumped head-first into everything that Westminster has to offer. Through the Center for Civic Engagement, she coordinates a mentoring program at East High School that helps English language learners apply for college, write scholarship essays, and prepare for a bright future. "The reason I care so is because it's not that these students aren't inspired enough or that they don't want to do it; they just don't know about the resources available to them." Elhom wants the students she helps to have the same access to higher education she's had thorough scholarships. "I want to make sure that everyone gets that chance," she said. "Especially with education, everyone should get the chance to better themselves."

Scholarships create opportunities. Support students like Elhom by supporting scholarships.

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Expedition in the News

Two people on a canoe
Group of Students around Campfire

The Route

Our proposed route is an enormous figure eight, heading northwest first (because of potential early winter weather) and including Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Course-related sites include sites of environmental/cultural conflict or cooperation (e.g., Malheur National Wildlife Refuge; East Tavaputs Plateau tar sands; Klamath River dams; the Berkeley Pit, the Nevada Test Site, Owens Lake); National Parks (e.g., Yellowstone, North Cascades, Olympic, Redwood, Grand Canyon, Great Basin); wilderness areas (e.g., Bob Marshall, Glacier Peak); Native nations and sites (e.g., Burns Paiute, Coast Salish, Miwok, the Nez Perce trail, Colville, Pyramid Lake, Hopi); dam sites (e.g., Teton, Grand Coulee, Hoover, Hetch Hetchy, Snake River); and relevant towns/cities (e.g., Bozeman, Bend, Cody, Moab, Winthrop, Page).

Expedition Route

Course Descriptions


Follow the Expedition's Progress