Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 46.55
Liaison Keaton Schrank
Submission Date Aug. 16, 2022

STARS v2.2

Westminster College - Utah
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Keaton Schrank
Environmental Center Manager
Environmental Center
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution:

Westminster offers an semester-long Environmental Studies Expedition course that looks at multiple sustainability issues around the American West. The College also offers courses during the one month May Term that allow students to go on immersive trips. Several of the trips focus on sustainability, or include sustainability as one of the main focuses by one faculty trip leader, complimented by other faculty focuses. This provides students with an interdisciplinary perspective on each trip.

Courses offered in the 2021-2022 academic year include:

Trekking the Camino de Santiago, Spain:
In this MTSE we don’t just study pilgrimage, we become pilgrims as we trek along the Camino de Santiago from the French Pyrenees to Finisterre— the end of the earth—on Spain’s Atlantic coast. This is a journey of body, soul, and mind for students who crave adventure and want an immersive experience. As we trek along what was once a primitive trade route, we will discuss the entrepreneurial drive that has supported and shaped the pilgrim experience. As we skirt mountains and move through verdant valleys, we discover how the environment has shaped the trail and how the pilgrim experience has shaped the world around it. In small villages and along the trail we immerse ourselves in language and culture as we communicate with residents, business owners, hospitaleros, and other pilgrims. The physical demands of this pilgrimage, coupled with the camaraderie of students and faculty, create a transformative adventure that will define your college experience.

Baja, Mexico, Sea of Cortez Science Field Methods:
The Baja Peninsula of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez (the Gulf of California) together form one of the most unique environments on the planet, with Jacques Cousteau famously calling it “the world's aquarium.” Bahía de los Ángeles, a small fishing village set on the bay by the same name on the east side of the Baja peninsula, is famous among scientists, educators, and fishermen because of its natural beauty and incredible biodiversity. This natural laboratory provides unmatched opportunities to learn about the natural environment and the research methods used to study it. Students in this course will learn to carry out field methods from oceanography, marine biology, environmental science, chemistry, ecology, hydrology, and geomorphology. This interdisciplinary program takes place within the cultural settings of Baja California's coast and mountains, allowing students to learn about the conflicts between implementing more sustainable resource use and ecosystem conservation versus traditional extraction practices and livelihoods. This educational experience involves cultural connections through direct, daily interactions with local partners and stakeholders with diverse perspectives on local resource use and development goals.

Exploring Hopi/Diné Nations:
This course introduces students to Hopi and Diné cultures. It includes social, educational, environmental, political, economic, artistic, health, and caring aspects of lived histories and practices. Students will have the opportunity to explore the complex histories, world views, and perceptions of the environment, relationships, and values of Hopi/Diné people through a variety of perspectives. All students will participate in a nine-day field trip designed to explore health issues, educational practices, and ecosystems on Hopi and Diné nations in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Students will visit Indian Health Services and private health care facilities, schools, Hopi and possibly Diné families, museums, and national park sites. Students will participate in a guided field and river trip on the San Juan River. Students will also visit related organizations in Salt Lake City after field experience. Students from all majors are welcome.

Westminster Expedition:
During the 2021 Fall Semester, 15 students, two professors, and a program coordinator loaded 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 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 allow us to learn directly from landscapes and ecosystems, as well as from people who live, work, and study in those places. Together, we 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.

Field Study- Desolation Canyon:
Participants in this field course will raft the Green River through Desolation Canyon and will study the human and natural history of the surrounding Tavaputs Plateau. This area in eastern Utah is part of the ancestral territory of Northern Utes. It has been traversed by scientific explorers, ranchers, hunters, prospectors, and river runners for the last century and a half. The area is rich in Fremont archaeological sites, but is now threatened by shale oil and natural gas development. Desolation Canyon is deeper in places than Grand Canyon, and it hosts a remarkably complex assemblage of riparian, desert, and montane ecosystems.

Website URL where information about the institution’s immersive education programs is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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