Course Profile: Prof. Randy Wilson’s "The Rocky Mountain West: Cultural and Physical Geography"

Prof. Randy Wilson teaches the intensive two-week field-based summer course entitled, “The Rocky Mountain West: Cultural and Physical Geography.”  The course focuses on land use and sustainability in the Rocky Mountains over time, specifically concentrating on the San Juan Mountain Range in Southwest Colorado. 

Every day during the two-week period is a field day. The students tour a site, conduct field studies, go on extensive hikes, and interact with local resource managers. During the first several days on the trip, students study the geology and ecology of the Rockies. The students then learn about the human impacts on the landscape. For instance, the students study the way indigenous peoples shaped the environment, the impacts of mining by European settlers, logging, ranching, and the recreational tourism industry.  In each of these cases, students look at how these different uses of natural resources have left a legacy, which has led to challenging land management problems today. 

Each morning and evening a group discussion is held on the day’s events. Students keep a journal to keep track of their learning.  After the two-week trip is completed, each student writes a seminar research paper based on one of the topics of study during the course.   

The course takes place during the last two weeks of May and counts as a full course credit in the Environmental Studies major, but also can contribute to the Gettysburg Curriculum requirements. 

For more information on the course, including additional photos, visit the course webpage.

View photos and captions on Flickr