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

June 19, 2015

June 19, 2015

Dear Faculty and Staff,

One of the benefits of being the president of Westminster College is the wide variety of activities I get to be involved in. From prospective student events to representing the college on various community, higher education, and foundation boards, it is an honor to represent all of you.

Since my last presidential post, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of PIN (President's Innovative Network) at a special dinner hosted by trustee Wood Moyle. Over the past ten years, more than $2.5 million has been invested in PIN, which has launched more than 23 strategic initiatives, including the Center for Civic Engagement, the Great Salt Lake Institute, the W-Core, ePortfolios, the Center for Innovative Culture, and many other college projects and on-line learning offerings. We currently have 43 members in PIN, and during the special dinner we honored five who donated $100,000 for the program over the last ten years.

I have also been asked to represent the college on the Salt Lake Chamber Board, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, and the Regional Council of the United Way Promise Partners program that supports our South Salt Lake initiatives. I attended my first set of board meetings for all three of these organizations last week and learned that there are many opportunities to expand the college's network and footprint in the city, region, and state. Westminster is highly regarded by all of these organizations and many others that are served by our faculty and staff in various capacities.

I began this week by visiting Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to attend my first meeting of the New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U). This is the consortium of 22 colleges and universities that Westminster has belonged to for more than a decade that promotes collaborative partnerships among the institutions. All of them are located in urban settings and have missions that embrace the liberal arts and professional programs with a strong commitment to civic engagement. Mark Ferne, Rhonda Lucey, Jen Simonds, and our NAC&U ambassadors Dick Chapman and Shamby Polychronis attended this conference with me. The work of NAC&U is exciting and we are honored to join institutions like Hamline University, Pacific Lutheran University, Wagner College, Manhattan College, and Valparaiso University (to name a few )in developing new and innovative ways to promote student success on a global. During the conference, I had the privilege of sitting down with 18 other presidents for a day to discuss common issues and opportunities.

As our fiscal year comes to a close, we will say farewell to some wonderful colleagues who are leaving us: Al Johansen, Ashlee Rauzon, Liz Key, Tim Dolan, Jin Wang, Michael Caldwell, Coral Azarian, Trisha Teig, Andrew Wright, Racquel Cornali, and Carmen Kaminski. I hope you will join me in thanking them for their service to Westminster.

I know many of you are busy finishing up year-end reports and preparing for the new academic year. Enrollment for this fall continues to look positive, but we need to continue to recruit and encourage accepted students to enroll, so keep up your individual efforts to help us reach our goals.

Sandy and I will be taking some vacation time next week to travel with some friends to Israel, a part of the world we have never been to but are excited to explore. I hope each of you will find time this summer to get away and do something fun with your family and friends.

Kind 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