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Alaska, Bears, and the Ecozoic Era: Wrangell-St. Elias Preserve


  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (map)

Overview: With Dr. Leon Chartrand as our wilderness guide and experienced tracker, this expedition takes us to Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve. We explore the landscape's story firsthand by air shuttle into a remote area of Alaska for a complete immersion experience. Our goal is to become humbled by the landscape and to discover how the human story is integrated within the Earth and Universe stories 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, 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 inland grizzlies forage without ever leaving our base-camp. And each day will involve a hike from basecamp into some new place to discover.

  Class alongside Baultoff Creek, Alaska

Class alongside Baultoff Creek, Alaska

Credits: 6 CORE Credits. THEO 332: "Sacred Ground and the New Cosmology" (counts as THEO 200, Theo Perspectives, ER/S, Enviro Science, Peace Studies, Gen Humanities or Free electives) and PHIL 200: "Wilderness & Environmental Philosophy" (counts as PHIL 200 Phil Perspectives or Free elective). 

Enrollment: Max 14 | Adventure Level: 3

Security Deposit: To secure spot, a $800 nonrefundable deposit is due Apr 15, 2019, but the earlier deposit is submitted the better, as spaces are limited. Also, note deposit is included within Program Fee. Once deposit is applied, $800 will be deducted from Program Fee listed below. 

Costs: $5,568 Program Fee is all inclusive. It includes 6 credit hours of tuition, which is approximately ~$2,778 ($463/hr x 6 hrs) + $2,790 all inclusive travel, which includes commercial airfare, bushpilot air shuttle, lodging, ground transportation, group gear, wilderness access fees, meals, beverages, etc.. Note: 2019 costs are approximate. Estimates based on 2016-2018 increases/year and are subject to +/- 1% change. Security deposit will be deducted from total Program Fee amount once deposit is submitted.  

Where do we go? Region D: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Denali National Park, Anchorage, Fairbanks and surrounding Alaskan wilderness. To learn more about these places, click here

What will we do? Air shuttle into remote area for 7 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. Sacred Ground and the New Story. Professor: Leon Chartrand, Ph.D. [THEO 332: 3 creds undergraduate, THEO 200 Core Credit, Theo Perspectives, ER/S, Enviro Science, Gen Humanities, Peace Studies, Free elective] Since our beginning, we have been storytellers. Stories have helped us make sense of the world, of its mysterious phenomena and powers. They have expressed how creation came to be and defined the human role within creation. Above all, creation stories have been our guide. They penetrate into the depths of the psyche and inform behavior, especially when it comes to how we treat others and the world around us. But, creation stories can lose their effectiveness over time. If new knowledge contradicts or discredits a creation myth, then that story can lose its functional role. That is our great challenge today. We are in trouble now because we are, as Thomas Berry says, in between stories. Not only is the current story being discredited by science, but our current story does not provide the guidance we need for dealing with environmental devastation. It places the human at the pinnacle of creation instead of, as evolutionary and cosmological knowledge reveals, as a derivative of creation. And yet the new scientific story does not yet provide a meaningful context because it deals primarily with how the physical-material world came into being and does not deal with the Universe's psychic-spiritual dimension manifested so eloquently in and through human consciousness. For this reason, a new cosmogonic myth must be shaped, a metanarrative inclusive of creation stories of our past as well as the knowledge we now have about our universe. It is part of the great work of the human species as we transition from this terminal phase of the Cenozoic Era, the last 65 million years of Earth history, into an Ecozoic Era, where humans become a viable presence. This course, therefore, aims to help us see how a new cosmogonic myth, one that deals adequately with the sacredness of creation within the framework of the evolutionary story, as the primary context for how we become a mutually enhancing presence to the earth community. 

2. Place, Identity and Imagination. Professor: David Reid
[ENGL 205: 3 credits undergrad, CORE ENGL 205 credit, General Humanities/Free elective] The Wilderness has long inspired the imagination of thinkers. In this course, we will consider the possibilities that writers of place provide as they attempt to reimagine the human role in the ecological narrative. We’ll ask the following questions, and more: What role does the literary imagination play in how we view both place and self? How do the stories we tell affect the actions we take? Do our dominant narratives encourage or discourage a sense of alienation or interdependence? Do we still have a sense of place? How does displacement, either figurative or literal, affect our identity? To reorient our own relationship to the environment, we will do some of our own writing. Immersion within the Yellowstone landscape will heighten our sense of connectedness and may inspire us in unexpected ways. Since writing involves the senses as well as language, this opportunity is ideal for taking time to write and practice engaging more deeply with our surroundings. 

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