Text Box: Dept. of Environmental Studies
Gettysburg College 
Colorado Summer Field Course

Students meet with wilderness rangers from the San Juan National Forest prior to conducting a service learning trail maintenance project in the Weminuche Wilderness Area.

Text Box: ES 251 & 252 The Rocky Mountain West: 
Physical & Cultural Geography

Course description

Intensive two-week field-based examination of the physical and cultural geography of the Rocky Mountain West. Focus on the San Juan Mountain Range in Southwest Colorado. Service-learning and other projects examine human-nature interactions from diverse multicultural (Native American, Euro-American), institutional (U.S. Forest Service, BLM), and political-economic (logging, ranching, mining, tourism) perspectives. Students examine recent efforts to achieve ecologically sustainable solutions to land management challenges in the mountains.

Students enroll in either ES 251 physical geography OR ES 252 cultural geography depending on the topical focus of their final paper. ES 251 fulfills the Natural Science Non-lab curriculum goal. ES 252 fulfills the Interdisciplinary Studies goal.

The course runs during the last two weeks of May so that students may return home for summer jobs and internships in the first week of June.

For more information contact: Prof. Randy Wilson, Dept. of Environmental Studies, rwilson@gettysburg.edu or x6034


Above, students stand before the Collegiate Range, part of the Continental Divide in South Park, CO.

Hiking toward timber line to study alpine ecology, near Coal Bank Pass on the San Juan Nat. Forest (elev. 10,640 ft.)

Sample Paper Topics

 Aspen Ecology in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

 Cooperation, Controversy & Compromise: rethinking national forest management in the New West

 Restoring the Ponderosa Pine Forest

 The Ute Mountain Ute: Changes in Land & Life

 Mining Reclamation in the San Juan Mnts.

 Nature & Culture in the San Juans: Native American vs. Euro-American Environmental Relations

 New West Transformations in Three Colorado Mountain Towns: the role of tourism and the service-sector industry

 The Social, Economic & Environmental Impacts of Historic Mining in the San Juan Mountain

Silverton, CO