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ERIC Number: ED352645
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Pages: 10
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Teaching Natural History in a Wilderness Setting.
Vause, Mikel
A college honors course called "A Field Study in American Literature and Philosophy" helps students develop foundations for an environmental philosophy, by introducing them to the literature of natural history and exploration, and more importantly, through actual participation in outdoor activities. The class spends at least four days and nights in some remote corner of Utah or Idaho, "alone" in wildness, cooking for themselves and participating in activities. Readings for the class describe actual physical activities experienced by writers in wild settings, and focus on the geography local to where the class is held. For example, on the topic of the ascent of a mountain, readings include "Ktaadn" by Henry David Thoreau, "The Range of Light" by John Muir, and "The Mountain of My Fear" by David Robert. After students read and discuss the essays, they actually do a moderate climb and a free rappel. Observations are shared later in group discussion. This same pattern is followed using orienteering (compass work), individual exploration, and a solo bivouac. The solo bivouac--spending the night alone without sleeping bags or tents--is the most challenging segment of the course, and requires students to call upon and assess what they have learned: crossing new ground, exploration, courage, solitude, observation. It is interesting to see how fast social barriers break down in these experiences of wildness and how quickly a group made up of diverse people cast off ideologies and bond together into a harmonious community. (SR)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A