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

August 13, 2015

August 13, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the start of the new academic year. I know everyone is incredibly busy. What an exciting week we have ahead of us.

New and returning students are arriving daily to check in and attend various orientations. Yesterday, I met 20 new faculty who will be joining us this semester, and tomorrow I welcome our new international and honors students back to campus.

Convocation is on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the Behnken Field House. I invite you to attend. The word convocation refers to a gathering of people. This gathering of the Westminster community exemplifies our connection to each other and our collective celebration of the beginning of the academic year. I find it to be a wonderful tradition to welcome the incoming freshman class and share the campus spirit with them. Thanks to all of you who have worked hard behind the scenes to get us ready.

President Morgan with Shay Wyatt and the RMAC Commissioner

Last week was exciting as we were officially welcomed to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) by Commissioner Chris Graham and accepted into the NCAA Division II membership process. This is the beginning of new era for Griffin athletics, and I invite you to attend one of the many upcoming competitions this fall.

Also last week, we participated in the inaugural production of the Great Salt Lake Fringe. This is a fun multi-day performing arts festival in the heart of Sugar House involving artists performing in more than 200 shows, which include theatre, dance, music, aerial arts, puppetry, magic, and speech. Dr. Michael Vought, Nina Vought, Dr. Michael Sutton, and an outstanding group of Westminster students organized this creative and innovative festival. This was funded in part through one of the Griffin grants last year and demonstrates collaboration and connection to the community and the arts. Kudos to all involved.

I am making several changes to my senior team: Julie Freestone, executive director of human resources, will be added to the team. Mark Ferne, associate vice president and dean of students, will now report to me as the chief student affairs officer, with added responsibility over the career resource center. Annalisa Holcombe has a new title that better describes her various responsibilities: associate vice president for college relations and strategic planning. The search for a new vice president of advancement has concluded and I hope to make an appointment next week.

The senior team, deans, and I had a productive day-long meeting this week to review and focus our institutional priorities for this year, and these will be announced at the President’s Breakfast on Tuesday morning.

I regret that I will miss my first official faculty orientation on Monday. I know Lisa Gentile and our faculty leadership and deans have an exciting day planned, but I will be at a required meeting at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis to accept our official invitation to provisional membership into the NCAA II.

And lastly, I know this weekend is one where many of you will be working on campus rather than spending time with your families. I thank you in advance for you commitment to this important occasion for our new students and their families. It becomes a memorable connection for them to Westminster.


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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