The course is called Global Change in the Context of the Pacific Northwest.
During our 8 day trip (July 10-17) into the heart of Olympic National Park, we will be observing direct evidence for various kinds of environmental change and contemplating the meaning of this change for the future of life on earth as we enter the "Age of the Anthropocene".
The topics we are exploring are the following:
Current and past climate change events. How were they caused and more importantly what were the consequences for life on earth? What physical evidence can we observe of climate change in the Olympic wilderness (both current climate change and past climate change events)? Among other activities, we will be observing evidence for range shifts in various organisms, and trying to get some repeat photos of a glacier that has not been photographed since the early 1900s to track its retreat.
The loss of wilderness. How do we define wilderness? How have connotations changed in the last 100 years? What does it mean to be entering an age where wilderness as we knew it is rapidly disappearing from earth? What does wilderness provide us and other organisms from ecological and pyschological points of view?
Readings and mini lectures will be in the natural science literature, philosophical and historical literature (such as accounts of early explorers), and nature psychology. More importantly, the course will ask you to ponder and discuss these topics as a group while we hike through the wilderness in a full immersion experience. Your grade will be based on discussion and a final project that addresses some aspect of the course topics through readings and personal experience.
The trip will be physically challenging, but that is part of the learning experience. We will average about 5 miles a day on our planned route. You will be advised to do some physical training to get ready for the trip.
I’m happy to discuss the course in more detail with anyone interested in the course. Feel free to email me or come by my office in Wallace (but let me know when you’ll be coming so I can be sure to be there).
Instructor background: I am trained as a biologist, with specialities in birds and plants. I have been leading educational wilderness backpacking trips in the Olympic Mountains for years, and used to live in Olympic National Park for work. I am certified in first aid at the level of Wilderness First Responder (100 hour course). I have spent over 90 days backpacking in the Olympic wilderness with educational groups over the past 15 years.