Programs and Structure
Q: How are programs structured?
A: Wildlands Studies programs are highly structured, with academic activities scheduled most days. They are also intensive, typically including instruction and field research seven days each week.
Faculty and staff work directly with students six to ten hours a day and are available for tutorials and coursework discussion before and after scheduled activities.
Typical days start at eight each morning and go into the evening with guest lectures, workshops and structured study time. Sometimes we start much earlier and go much later—for instance when in the backcountry, at a field site we may start as early as 4 a.m. or go until 10 p.m. to observe wildlife. It is necessary to be flexible and able to accommodate a variety of class times. Generally there are few, if any, days off during the program. There are periodically a few hours of free time, and those are generally filled with completing coursework or personal needs, such as laundry and/or contacting home.
Q: What are the prerequisites for a Wildlands Studies Program?
A: Students should have a basic knowledge of ecology, biology and geography, gained through one lower division university class in science, biology, geography, environmental studies or a related field. Prior field research experience is not required; we’ll teach you the data acquisition skills you’ll need during the program.
Q: Is there a language requirement for the international programs?
A: All program instruction is in English. Although a student's experience will be enhanced if they know the local language, it is not a requirement.
Q: How much time is spent outside or in the field versus in lecture?
A: Wildlands Studies courses are not taught in the classroom setting like your home university. There are academic responsibilities including required readings, homework assignments, exams, final projects and oral presentations. However, these activities and faculty lectures take place in the field: standing in the ecosystem that is the focus of the lecture, talking to the researcher who wrote your reading assignment, homework completed in your tent by headlamp, or discussion of a peer-reviewed article about glacial movement while sitting aside a glacier. This firsthand learning experience is incomparable. And the combination of academic and experiential learning is, we believe, unparalleled.
Q: Are there overnight field activities?
A: Whenever possible we have overnight backpacking field activities to the backcountry. We know from our alumni that backpacking is a highlight of our programs, with huge personal rewards. On our programs, where terrain and wildlife permit, we will have one, two, and even three multi-day backpacking field studies. On others, where we are limited due to wildlife or dense vegetation, we conduct a series of daylong field studies in backcountry locations. Please note that we do not backpack on all our programs, and if you wish to backpack, refer to the program description to be certain this is included.
Q: Should students bring a cell phone, laptop and/or tablet?
A: Although this is constantly changing, mobile phones and laptops are generally not needed on Wildlands Studies courses. We are often in the field and away from cellular service, charging facilities, and broadband or internet. Mobile phones, camera batteries, and laptops may be difficult, if not impossible to recharge, and challenging to store safely if you go on a multi-day backpack. In many countries, cell phones are cheap to buy with a pay-as-you-go plan, and students opt to purchase phones abroad. This depends on the country and location. However, we would rarely recommend that you bring a laptop because it will be hard to charge and difficult to safely store. Tablets, on the other hand, are becoming frequently more popular on our programs, as they are easier to keep and transport, and can help with note taking, photo management and communication. Our logistics email, sent about twelve weeks in advance of a program, will discuss mobile phone, tablet and laptop use and practicality.