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Journey to the Midnight Sun: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge


AUGUST 2 - AUGUST 14, 2017

6 Credit Hours: THEO 388 "Wilderness and Religious Imagination", THEO 200 CORE credit, ER/S, Env Sci, Peace Studies, Gen Humanities/Free Elective; BIOL 128/9 or BIOL 258 "Life: Arctic Ecology", CORE CREDIT, Env Sci, Gen Bio/free elective.

Program Costs: ~$2,790 inclusive travel/lodging + ~$470/ credit hour tuition. (2017 costs are approximate, based on 2016 rates and estimated increases, and subject to change).

Security Deposit: To secure spot, a $800 nonrefundable deposit is due by Mar 1, 2017. This deposit is included in the travel/lodging costs and will be deducted from the total travel/lodging cost once it is made.

Overview: With Dr. Leon Chartrand as our wilderness guide, this expedition takes us to the Arctic National WIldlife Refuge. This is the wildest of the wild. We explore the landscape's expression through flora and fauna firsthand by air shuttle into a remote area of Alaska for a complete immersion experience. Our goal is to discover and reflect on human impacts upon even the most remote areas of the world and, in so doing, emphasize the primary community that brought us into being and, even now, nurtures us in every aspect of human quality of life. We discover that what we do to the other-than-human--in this case, migrating birds, caribou, arctic fox, wolves, polar and brown bears--we do to the human; what happens to the outer world, happens to the inner world. This twelve day expedition takes us to one of the most remote places on Earth. We explore wildness firsthand by spending days discovering and reflecting upon how Earth influences our intellectual perceptions, moral imagination, and our sense of the divine. On this trip, students can take advantage of six credits. We drink from ice cold streams and watch birds preparing for their long trek south. We watch wolves and fox forage without ever leaving our base-camp. And each day will involve a hike from basecamp into some new place to discover. A 3 credit graduate-level option is also available.

Enrollment: Maximum 18 | Adventure Level: 3

Where do we go? Region D: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Deadhorse, Fairbanks and the shores of the Arctic Ocean. To learn more about these places, click here

What will we do? Air shuttle into remote area for 6 days at base-camp, backcountry hiking; bear watching, campfire storytelling and stargazing; daily wilderness explorations from basecamp. To learn more, click here.

What courses are offered?

1. Wilderness and Religious Imagination. Professor: Dr. Leon Chartrand
[THEO 388: 3 credits undergrad, THEO 200 CORE, E/RS, Enviro Science, Peace Studies, or general humanities/free elective) / 3 credits grad] Discover the Earth community as primarily a wilderness community that will not be bargained with or made into an object of any kind. Awaken to our sacred Earth by entering into the revelatory power of wilderness. Let your imagination "run wild" on the shores of a quiet alpine lake or on a bear-tracked trail within a seemingly endless pine forest. This course includes lessons, discussions and reflections in some of the world's most wild places. Throughout this course, we will explore how the Paleolithic world of mystery and power brought religious ideas to life in the human mind. We will, at the same time, explore how, even today, the landscape invokes religious imagination and how that imagination plays a fundamental role in how we may address the ecologial crisis. We will also discern how religion imagination has fostered and continues to foster an intimate, viable relation between the human and more-than-human world. We will ask the following: how can religious imagination contribute to a new era of conservation? How does religious thinking (limit thinking) inspire humans to recognize the intimate connection between preserving mystique and safeguarding the earth community? This course can be taken for graduate level credit.

2. Life: Arctic Ecology. Professor: Dr. George Farnsworth
[BIOL 128/9 or BIOL 258: 3 credits undergrad, Gen BIO, Enviro Science/Free elective]  We will introduce students to the inter-related organisms in the food webs of the Arctic. As an immersive experiential learning course, students will travel to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and explore the biological diversity and natural history of the ecosystems of the far northern latitudes. Students will also learn to identify local species of plants and animals. Major emphases of the class will be to introduce students to major trophic level dynamics of the Arctic and explore the natural processes of biological succession. For example, as glaciers recede terrestrial communities of plants and animals colonize newly exposed areas in a predictable pattern. Additionally, we will examine the changes happening in the Arctic as a result of Global Climate Change. The Arctic ecosystems are experiencing some of the most dramatic warming as a result of accumulating greenhouse gases. Students will see some of these recent changes and discuss what scientists are predicting for the pace and degree of changes to come. A specific goal of the course will be to encourage students to think like ecologists and develop their own hypotheses about aspects of Arctic ecology. Students will review primary scientific literature about Arctic ecology and develop their own research proposals based on their experience in the Arctic. This course expands the science offerings for electives that satisfy the Biology Major and the Environmental Science Major.  It provides a valuable experiential-learning course for students interested in environmental sciences and travel experiences, while providing hands-on learning in research methods.

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