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

July 31, 2015

July 31, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I can't believe school starts in almost two weeks. I am beginning to see students coming back from the summer break, and faculty and staff are busy making final preparations. I must confess that I feel a little anxious thinking about all that I need to do with Convocation and the various welcome back retreats and events that will unfold in the next month. It will be an exciting year.

I have some wonderful news to report. This morning I received the official letter inviting Westminster to become a provisional member in NCAA Division II. Over the next three years we will work toward full membership (much like an accreditation process). This month, we will begin competing with schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) with the confidence that we are now on our way to full NCAA II eligibility. These are terrific institutions to compete against, which will boost our resolve and visibility. Please join us on Tuesday at noon in the Special Events Room of the Eccles Health, Wellness, and Athletic Center for the official announcement celebration.

I want to thank former president Brian Levin-Stankevich and athletic director Shay Wyatt for leading this effort over the last two years and the many coaches, staff, and faculty who contributed to the reports and studies required. I thought you might enjoy the video clip we prepared to the NCAA Membership Committee to promote why Westminster was ready for this next step:

As you have read in the weekly enrollment reports, the college will be welcoming an estimated 490 first-year students to campus, and our graduate programs are close to meeting or exceeding their enrollment goals. A final push is underway to reach out to any returning students who haven't registered yet.

We have several staff searches that are wrapping up in the next few days for the vice president of advancement, director of diversity and inclusion, and director of the career resource center. I am pleased to announce that we have a new Title IX/EEO coordinator: Jason Schwartz- Johnson. He joins us next month from serving as the Title IX deputy coordinator at the University of Illinois.

Many important initiatives have gotten good traction over the summer, including the work being done by Dr. James Hedges and Ryan Lewis with our project-based and continuing education programs. Dr. Hedges represented Westminster at the Competency-Based Education Network (CBEN) last week in Cleveland, and is involved in the national effort to appeal for more federal financial aid for students in project-based programs.

Real headway is being made with several corporate partnerships. We are currently delivering our Leadership Certificate program to employees of Arnold Machinery, Discover Card, and Mountain America Credit Union. Later this month, we will be offering our second “Innovation Lab” workshop to Phillips Edison & Company.

Our involvement with Discover Card is increasing on several fronts, and a third cohort of their employees will begin our project-based BBA program. We are also exploring educational partnerships with Davis School of Applied Technology and Hill Air Force Base that look very promising and could bring us a number of new students.

Many of you may remember Charla Long, a national expert in project-based learning that came to campus several years ago. She will be back on campus next week to help us refine our project-based programs and explore ways to better market them.

By now, you have also received invitations to the President's Breakfast and the Back-to-School BBQ. I hope you will join me at both of these events. They will be opportunities to launch the school year and connect with your colleagues.

Please enjoy the last days of summer and know how much I appreciate your work to forward the mission of the college.


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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