A photo of the lake at the wilderness field station

Course Offerings

Three student watching ducklings while canoeing

Session 1: June 15- July 13, 2019

Tagging a pileated woodpecker

Session 2: July 13- August 10, 2018

  • Animal Behavior (BIO-285/280): Harlo Hadow; Biology, Coe College
  • Sustainability at the Station (BIO/ENVS 2xx): Jesse Ellis;  Biology, Coe College
  • Boreal Mammalogy (BIO-335): Roger Powell; Applied Ecology, North Carolina State, Emeritus
  • Writing Wilderness (RHE-345): Chris Fink; English, Beloit College

Brief Course Descriptions

Session 1

Aquatic Ecology (BIO-275)

Aquatic ecology is the study of the aquatic life and how it interacts with the biological, physical, and chemical environment. In this course, we will explore the diversity, abundance, and distribution of aquatic organisms in the diverse aquatic ecosystems available at the Wilderness Field Station, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park.

Carrie Kissman (St. Norbert College, DePere, Wisconsin)
Click here for Aquatic Ecology full course description.

Conservation in the Wild (BIO-2xx)

This course focuses on the philosophy, policy, and practice of conserving biodiversity using terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in and near the BWCA Wilderness as living laboratories. Extensive field work and some lecture and computer modeling are used to investigate conservation topics including the role of protected areas and anthropogenic impacts such as habitat loss, overharvest, invasive species, disease, and climate change.

Prerequisites: one college Biology course

Roarke Donnelly (Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, Georgia)

Environmental Justice: Race, Class, Power and Sustainability (POL-185)

This course introduces the students to field-based research in the social sciences. Students will become familiar with survey research by learning data-collection techniques such as participant observation and interviewing techniques. Students will also learn to record, analyze and present data. They will conduct research from two different cases of wilderness preservation, the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in the United States and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. Cross-national comparisons of political institutions, regulatory styles, and state-society relations will reveal different styles of environmental management and wilderness preservation. Students will interview key stakeholders on both sides of the border, including members of native communities (called "first nations" in Canada), business groups, environmental groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and government. The course is designed for undergraduate students with an interest in environmental studies and social research methods, but no previous knowledge of political science or research methods is needed. Students considering graduate school will find this course particularly valuable because many graduate programs in the social sciences require strong field research skills.

Prerequisite: None.

Pablo Toral (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin)
Click here for Environmental Justice: Race, Class, Power and Sustainability full course description.

Session 2

Animal Behavior (BIO-285/280)

Animals engage in a bewildering diversity of behaviors: moths "jam" the sonar of bats, wasps try to mate with flowers, whales communicate over kilometers of open ocean, and bees "dance" to tell their sisters when and where to forage. In this class we will explore both the ways scientists have tried to unravel the mysteries of animal behavior and the understanding that this research has provided. The unifying principle of most modern studies of animal behavior studies is that behavior, like morphology, physiology or cellular processes, has evolved under natural selection. To begin to fully understand animal behavior, however, we will look at behavior from several perspectives, including its physiological, genetic and environmental causes as well as its adaptive significance. We will review studies from around the world and apply what we learn from these to questions about species found in the Boundary Waters region.

Prerequisite: One college biology course.

Harlo Hadow (Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Writing Wilderness (RHE-345)

This course investigates strategies for writing about the natural world in an informal workshop format. Class members explore the terrain around the Field Station and share with each other their written observations about those experiences. The composition assignments invite everyone to express their insights in various genre options: daily field journals, essays, poetry, short fiction, journalistic articles, memoirs, etc. By exploring and writing about this immersion into the north woods--plus reading works by such classic naturalists as Thoreau, Muir, Leopold, Olson, and McPhee--we should all gain a richer understanding of our relationship with the wilderness.

Prerequisite: None.

Chris Fink (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin)
Click here for Writing Wilderness full course description.