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

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Read the Latest Journal Entry

8 Tips for Surviving on the Road

September 12, 2017

Sam Poole

This post is for any road trippers out there who find themselves in a rut when on the road. These tips are to be used as much or as little as one needs, simply so that they can offer some guidance through each journey so that one can experience their trip to the fullest. This post is for Westminster Expedition students, and anybody who is interested in embarking on their own journey on the road.

  1. Stay organized. I have found that this is a major component to making life on the road go smoothly. Designate a specific pocket or place for each item in your pack and always return the item to the same pocket. This will help ensure that valuable items do not get lost or misplaced. There is nothing worse than feeling like you have lost your favorite item. Save yourself the worry by always placing things in the same place so you can remember where they are.
  2. Realize that there will be uncertainty on the road, and much of this is uncontrollable. Do your best to learn how to go with the flow, and be welcoming and accepting of new experiences as they arise. Understand that uncertainty can be unsettling, but can also trigger curiosity about uncertain experiences, and what the future may hold.
  3. Sleep when possible and set aside time to rest and recuperate. This is crucial to maintaining good health on the road, both mentally and physically.
  4. Remember you are human- this comes with both high and low emotions. Give yourself permission to feel happy and sad at times, because after all, you would not be human without your emotions. There is room for both good times and bad times on the road. Allow room for both and absorb and learn from all experiences.
  5. Remember self care- even in small cases such as blister prevention, first aid, or personal hygiene. These small instances can turn into large problems if they are left uncared for. Take the time to apply moleskin or athletic tape for blisters, cleanse small cuts, and cut nails to the appropriate length. These small measures can be preventative for the future.
  6. Be grateful for new experiences, new faces, and new surrounding landscapes. It is important to soak up time on the road and see what life is like outside of your traditional landscape, home, or place of residence. Each new place on the road has a new perspective, or knowledge to offer if you are willing to have open eyes and ears.
  7. Breathe. Take deep breaths in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Concentrate on the sound of your breath and allow this to center you. Life on the road can be overwhelming, and over stimulating at times and it can be helpful to stop wherever you are and take a second to breathe deeply.
  8. Change perspective if needed- sometimes you will find yourself in less desirable situations on the road. It is easy to fall into a negative mindset during these moments. However, a shift in perspective can make them more bearable and allow a new way of seeing through the situation.

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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


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