Semester in the West
Sarah Gilman ’03 is now Associate Editor at High Country News, a leading regional newspaper specializing in environmental issues in the American West.
Tristan Peter-Contesse ’04 went on for a Masters in Environmental Management from Yale University, and he now works in the EPA’s Coastal Management Branch in Washington, DC.
Kate Ritley ’04 is Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands, based in Eugene, Oregon.
Whitman College Semester in the West is an interdisciplinary field program in environmental studies, focusing on public lands conservation in the interior American West. Our objective is to come to know the West in its many dimensions, including its diverse ecosystems, its social and political communities, and the many ways these ecosystems and communities find their expression in regional environmental writing and public policy. Every other autumn, a select group of 21 Whitman College students ventures out into the interior West for field meetings with a wide variety of leading figures in conservation, ecology, environmental writing, and social justice. During the course of the semester, we typically have the opportunity to visit environmental issues in the West, while at the same time locating pathways toward meaningful individual and collective action to conserve and enhance the West’s natural and human communities. Each year our studies are focused around key themes that circumscribe environmental issues in the West, including water, public lands, climate change, restoration, social justice, energy, the urban/rural divide, and conservation.
Semester in the West is a part of Whitman College’s Environmental Studies Department. The program is multidisciplinary in organization, and local and regional in empirical emphasis. Students wrestle with the challenges, and come to understand the necessities, of an interdisciplinary approach in the elucidation of any environmental problem. They develop a literacy in understanding their Walla Walla “environmental address,” so they can appreciate the deep links between their temporary community and the surrounding human and natural environments. Field trips and internship opportunities are a vital part of this experience.
Funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and Whitman College, Semester in the West is a program for Whitman College students only.
Credit earned: Students will receive 16 credits for completed work in the field, which will include intensive work in ecology, politics, and creative and expository writing.
Financial aid: Semester in the West is a Whitman program, therefore all financial aid and scholarships apply.
Admission is competitive. Students with sophomore status and above are eligible to participate in the program.