Finding the Green River: Developing interdisciplinary knowledge in the sciences and outdoor leadership through placed-based exploration
NS/ED 100 (# TBD) is an interdisciplinary course with a strong emphasis on place-based learning, field observations, integrated interpretations, and leadership/outdoor skills development. This course will be entirely off-campus and will follow the Green River from its mountain source in Wyoming to its confluence with the Colorado River in Utah’s canyon country. The course is designed to build practical abilities in the use of the scientific method, integrative thinking, quantitative analysis, and effective communication; while also providing students an opportunity to build their skills in group leadership, backcountry living, risk management, and river travel. We will emphasize integrated cross-disciplinary learning and the content will focus on interconnected lessons from the natural sciences, such as hydrology, geology, ecology, and climatology, with additional material from social sciences and artistic perspectives in our discussions. Such interconnectedness is crucial to the understanding of coupled human-natural systems that we will try to convey by the end of the class through place-based exploration of the Green River Basin, and will be useful for students pursuing degrees in any of the natural sciences and/or environmental studies. Field-based assessments will use maps, writings, oral presentations, and other methods to build effective written and verbal communication skills. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their ability to observe, analyze, interpret, and integrate observations in the field, as well as with traditional tests on their conceptual understanding of the interdisciplinary material and integrative frameworks.
The course will include several days of mountain-based backcountry travel in the Wind River Range of central Wyoming, at the headwaters of the Green River. The course will then follow the Green River downstream through the Flaming Gorge, Dinosaur National Monument, and into eastern Utah; culminating in a 2-week backcountry canoe-based river trip through the Labyrinth/Stillwater section of the Green River that ends in Canyonlands National Park at the confluence with the Colorado River. The course will be taught with assistance from the CC outdoor education program and other skilled individuals with experience in the topic/field area and outdoor instruction. Students should expect a 24/7 course experience for the block; strong ties between students and instructors will be essential to a successful block of learning and engagement that will satisfy the Scientific Investigations with Lab (L) requirements for graduation while also providing students an introduction to the world of river travel and backcountry leadership.