Mountains, Badlands, and Prairies: American High Plains

Tentative Dates: May 23 - June 6, 2019
United States

American High Plains

Humans first encountered the high plains of North America 12,000-20,000 years ago, as they migrated from Asia across the Bering Strait and southward.  Their descendants live in the area to this day, members of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota Sioux tribes. 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.

For science credit we will examine the geological history of the area, and the nature of extinctions. When European settlers arrived in the high plains 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 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.  Photography is a means of discovery. We will make use of photographic techniques such as drone photography, night sky photography, time lapse, and 3-D photography to observe and document our discoveries.

Itinerary and internal transport: Students will fly into the Denver airport and from there 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.  

See highlights from last summer's class here.

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

Beth Wright, Liberal Arts
William Harper, Art & Technology, Liberal Arts

Program fee: Approx. $2,100 (not including airfare to Denver; including accommodation, admissions, ground transport during the program from and back to Denver, some group meals)

PLUS Tuition cost per credit:
Undergraduate—$1,613 per credit hour;
Graduate—$1,665 per credit hour.

Online registration begins: March 13, 2019

Deposit due at registration: $525

Information Sessions:
Friday, February 15,  12:10-12:50 p.m., MacLean room 707
Thursday, February 21,   4:15-5:15 p.m., MacLean room 112