The goal of GEG 151 (Wilderness: Recreation and Resource) was to expand students’ understanding and appreciation of wilderness through an examination of recreational activities and natural resource uses. In particular, the class focused on the human dimensions of recreation and extractive activities including their historical and contemporary context, the agencies and management strategies related to wilderness areas, and the benefits and challenges of recreation and resource extraction on public lands.
Students were required to read two books throughout the January Term: Roderick Nash’s seminal text, Wilderness and the American Mind, and John McPhee’s, Encounters with the Archdruid. The former text spurred discussion on how our current perceptions and understanding of wilderness areas are rooted in religious, political, and environmental ideologies, while the later provided an opportunity to compare and contrast four inherently different views of what constitutes conservation.
Each student was required to complete a semester research project that addressed a current recreational or resource extraction management issue within a wilderness or public lands area of their choosing. As a geography class, each student was also to develop a map in conjunction with their semester project that creatively reflected their study area and management issue. Projects included topics such as sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the impact of agricultural runoff on trout populations in Seven Mile Creek, White Noise Syndrome in Mammoth Cave National Park, and BASE jumping in Yosemite National Park, among others.