A Grand Canyon Semester

Photo By Shona Estey-Edwards

Of Wilderness Explorations & Landscape Studies – Fall 2015

A Field-based Interdisciplinary Program Integrating Wilderness Expeditions & Recreation, Landscape Ecology & Public Lands Issues, Resource Management & Conservation Leadership.

Prescott College is proud to partner with Grand Canyon National Park  to offer the Grand Canyon Semester during the Fall of 2015. This semester-long, interdisciplinary program will embrace a progressive approach to experiential, place-based learning that uses the Greater Grand Canyon Ecoregion  as our training grounds and laboratory.


The curriculum weaves together a cross section of environmental studies topics with history and policy to formulate a multi-faceted knowledge of Grand Canyon issues. Students meet top authors, scientists and researchers while traveling extensively in the field. In fact, leadership skills and wilderness expeditions (both land- and river-based) are an explicit part of the curriculum. The GCS will help cultivate the next generation of leaders in our land management agencies and conservation organizations - leaders with a holistic understanding of the complex challenges facing public lands today. The overall delivery mode emphasizes student-centered experiential learning; whenever we are traveling in the backcountry, whether it’s hiking the trails or rafting the rivers, students are engaged with all the preparations and technical skills of an expedition as well as the academics, service projects, field research, and conservation leadership. A central piece of the Grand Canyon Semester is a science-based resource stewardship project focused on some aspect of the river corridor. Applicants should be in good health and comfortable with hiking and rafting in remote locations.

Program Overview

 Students receive 12 semester credits from Prescott College that can be transferred back to their home institution. These 12 credits consist of three distinct four-credit courses taught concurrently; one course helps students acquire the fundamental skills of wilderness expeditioning & leadership, backpacking & & whitewater rafting; the second course explores landscape ecology with a focus on the interconnected landscapes of the Grand Canyon Ecoregion (bio-geographic, socio-cultural and politico-economic); the third course examines public lands issues and management challenges in the Grand Canyon Ecoregion, cultivates skills and knowledge in conservation leadership, and includes student-directed research related to a resource stewardship  project in Grand Canyon National Park. Students enrolled in the GCS also have the opportunity to pursue an academic certification in River Studies and Leadership, a program sponsored by the River Management Society.   More information on this certification program is available at  River Studies & Leadership Certificate

Requirements & Application Process

Students interested in enrolling in the GCS are required to submit a pre-enrollment application, using the link below, that describes how their background and skills (i.e., academic, professional, and life experience) are aligned with the Grand Canyon Semester, and specific contributions one could make to the program as a member of the expedition team. The deadline for submitting pre-enrollment applications is April 10th, 2015, and successful applicants will be notified shortly thereafter.

Students from institutions in the  Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL) and The Eco League   institutions are encouraged to apply, and successful applicants from these two consortia will enroll  through their respective exchange programs (visit the CIEL & EcoLeague web sites for details).  All other applicants will enroll through the Prescott College Resident Undergraduate Program for the 2015 Fall Semester and pay standard tuition All Grand Canyon Semester students will pay a course fee (~$1200) and  personal field expenses (~$600).

For more detailed information, contact jbarnes@prescott.edu or rpeters@prescott.edu.