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

Journey of the Heart

March 18, 2016
Illhan Eeda

Ilhan Eeda’s only memory of her home country of Somalia is of the night she fled in 1993. Her father had just been killed by rebel soldiers embroiled in the country’s civil war, and a four-year-old Ilhan vividly recalls a cramped van ride to Kenya down a dusty road paved with emaciated lions. The road led Ilhan to a months-long stay in an abandoned warehouse owned by a violent man her grandfather knew, to five years of dwelling in a mud hut in a Kenyan refugee camp, and ultimately to a new and uncertain future half a world away in the United States.

Her early years in the US were rocky, but Ilhan eventually made many friends and found a passion for helping others as a phlebotomist at Intermountain Healthcare.

She thought that was enough for her until she learned about the Venture Course in the Humanities, a free two-semester course that introduces people living on low incomes to a variety of humanities courses. Venture led Ilhan to the nursing program at Westminster, and through generous scholarship grants, Ilhan will graduate from Westminster in 2017 without student loan debt.

Read more about her remarkable story and what she has planned for the future in the current issue of the Westminster Review.

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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