The American High Plains: Corps of Discovery

May 24 – June 5, 2018
United States

America Badge

In 1804, Lewis and Clark set out into the unexplored American West calling their expedition the Corps of Discovery. In our own journey of discovery, we will encounter the landscapes, geology, rivers, mountains and fossil records of the high plains. We will see and document native wildlife such as bison, antelope, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. We will attend ceremonial dances of the native Lakota Sioux Indians, and meet some of the ranchers, fur traders, miners, and fossil hunters of South Dakota and Nebraska.

When Lewis and Clark set out on their explorations, they encountered a pristine wilderness – or did they? Humans have been occupying this region for 10-20,000 years, changing the landscape and altering the ecology. As the humans arrived many of the large mammal species – mammoths, giant sloths, wolf-bears, and camels - went extinct. Was this the first sign of the Anthropocene of North America? Or were these “natural” extinctions unrelated to human presence? For science credit we will examine extinction theories and sustainability. For studio credit, we will keep journals of writing, drawing, and photography documenting our own discoveries of the physical and cultural landscapes of the American high plains.

Itinerary and internal transport: Students will fly into the Denver airport (meeting time and place TBA) from where the group will travel in vans to South Dakota. Vans will also be used during the trip to transport the group to and from various sites. At the end of the trip students will be taken back to the Denver airport.

Credits: 3 credits STUDIO and / or 3 credits SCIENCE (3000-level)


Elizabeth Wright, Liberal Arts; William Harper, Liberal Arts, Art & Technology

Program fee: Approx. $2,050 (not including airfare; including accommodation, admissions, ground transport from and back to Denver, some group meals)

PLUS Tuition cost per credit: Undergraduate—$1,552 per credit hour Graduate—$1,625 per credit hour.

Online registration begins: March 14, 2018

Deposit due at registration: $525

Information sessions: Friday, February 9,  4:15 p.m. MacLean Centre, room MC 707

Friday, February 23,  4:15 p.m. MacLean Centre, room MC 707