students at a campfire

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

April 23, 2015

April 23, 2015

This week got off to a great start after our men's lacrosse team beat BYU in a close game Saturday at Dumke Field. The women's team ended an impressive season too with a one-point loss to Colorado Mesa. Congratulations to both teams for a truly outstanding season!

I am pleased to announce that the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation has committed, for the second time in two years, a $1 million multi-year grant to the college's music program. This commitment from the Gillmor Foundation will provide new scholarships, instruments, and program and faculty support. Additionally it will fund a month long music festival to be held every summer to attract the best high school music talent from around the country. With the semester wrapping up, our music students are presenting several concerts over the next few weeks, and I urge you all to find time to go to one or more of them. They are a joy to attend.

I have continued my meetings and brown bags around campus, getting to know departments better. I am in awe of the terrific work being done in all areas. One concern I have heard voiced was regarding the copy center. As you may be aware, Westminster will transition to a more cost-effective printing model in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Starting July 1st, many of your printing needs will be taken care of by a new external printing partner instead of the campus copy center. Potential partners are currently being interviewed, and we will work with the new partner to ensure a smooth transition with as little disruption of day-to-day printing needs as possible. After July 1st, you will still be able to order your print jobs online and have access to same-day turnaround. The copiers currently located around campus will remain and several are being upgraded.

Our Board of Trustees selected new leadership at their last board meeting. Long-time board members Tom Ellison and Bill Orchow will step down as chair and vice-chair of the board after serving their leadership terms, but will both continue as trustees. Many thanks to them both for their dedication and service to the college.

Jeanne Ambruster and Preston Chiaro have been elected as chair and vice-chair of the board, effective July 1, 2015. Jeanne has served on the Westminster College Board of Trustees since 2005; Preston joined the board in 2011. Their leadership will be instrumental as we implement the strategic plan and work together as a campus for the future success of the college.

Last weekend, Tom Ellison, Jeanne Ambruster, Preston Chiaro, Lisa Gentile, and Michael Pacanowsky accompanied me on a visit to Flagstaff, Arizona to see Ginger and John Giovale, two of our wonderful supporters. It was an opportunity to update them on the progress of the strategic plan as well as to discuss the future of the Center of Innovative Cultures. Ginger has renewed her support of the center for another three years, enabling the center to evolve into a flagship program for Westminster College and the BVGSB.

Many people have asked me about plans for an inauguration. Please mark your calendars for September 24-26, alumni weekend, when we will formally recognize the presidential transition. The details and exact date and time are forthcoming.

Finally, let me conclude this week's update by expressing again my appreciation for the valuable feedback you have shared with me. I welcome your thoughts and concerns.

Best regards,

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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