Western Canada: Geographic Field Studies

THIS COURSE WILL NOT RUN DURING SUMMER 2014

IT IS EXPECTED TO RUN DURING SUMMER 2015

BELOW YOU CAN FIND INFORMATION FOR SUMMER 2013 FOR YOUR REFERENCE

Geographic Field Studies is an intensive, three-credit hour field course involving two weeks of travel through southern Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.  Roaming through rugged mountain, foothill, and prairie environments, the course examines both the human and physical landscapes.

Course Details

This course, GEOG 269: Geographic Field Studies in Western Canada, is an intensive field course involving two-weeks of travel through Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.  Roaming through mountain, foothill, and prairie environments, the course examines both the human and physical landscape and focuses on human-environment interactions and adaptations in Western Canada.  Designed to introduce students to geographical field observation, participants consider the indigenous population and their relationship to the environment and natural resource base.  Spatial patterns of historical settlement, land use, wild land preservation, industry, economic development, and tourism will also be explored.  This course is offered every second summer: next offered in summer 2013.

Students are required to keep a field journal describing and reflecting upon their daily activities.  They also participate in teaching the course, by conducting advanced research and delivering presentations at designated locales along the route.  Pre-departure instruction and independent research is required.

Course pre-requisites: Geography major, or permission of the instructor.

The Country

In this course you will become intimately acquainted with one of North America's most magnificent rural areas, the borderland region of Southern Alberta and British Columbia.  Spanning mountain, foothill and prairie landscapes, this is a land of remarkable vistas: alpine glaciers, rugged mountains, dense old-growth forests, wild rivers, deep prairie coulees, and seemingly limitless oceans of grass.  It is a place of fascinating physical diversity.  It experiences some of the driest, coldest, and hottest conditions in Canada.

It is also home to a varied array of plant and animal life including threatened and endangered Grizzly Bear and Wolf populations.  Much of the area's wildland is protected in three of Canada's oldest and most spectacular national parks, Banff, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes.

This is also one of the most culturally diverse areas of Canada.  Home of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) Confederacy, the aboriginal population is spread over five Indian reserves.  The countryside's cultural tapestry also includes Hutterite and Mormon communities.

Long exploited for its abundant natural resources, the region and its people have been supported by furs, forests, coal, oil, cattle, and wheat.  Today, the Alberta and British Columbia economies are Canada's strongest, and recreation and tourism are playing an important role in the region's prosperity.  Concerns exist, however, that resource development is eroding the environment's amenity value.  Residents face many challenges in managing development and environmental protection.