Grand Canyon Semester
– Maddie, GCS 2012 from Flagstaff, Arizona
Boundaries and Borders: Limitless Exploration of Environment, People, and Place
The Grand Canyon Semester offers a life-changing learning experience in the high mountains of northern Arizona and the deep canyon country of the Colorado Plateau. Students with a wide variety of interests and passions come from across the United States and around the world to join faculty in the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities to investigate how humans impact, manage, interact with, and value the natural world. On backcountry field trips, in classrooms and art galleries, around campfires, in traditional hogans, and floating down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, we confront key environmental and social challenges in these diverse natural and cultural landscapes.
The Grand Canyon Semester is an integrated learning experience in the humanities and sciences through which each student comes to understand the environmental and social challenges confronting society in the 21st century. The Grand Canyon Semester fosters a deep interest in exploring the intertwined issues that surround, influence, and shape the natural and cultural worlds of the Grand Canyon region. Using interdisciplinary approaches, students understand how cross-sections and intersections of people, culture, and environment shape the economic, political, artistic, ecological, social, and spiritual forces of the greater Grand Canyon region. Students explore how management, policy, and research strive to balance the complex issues such as climate change, mining, dams, tourism, land development, and biological and cultural diversity. This immersion into the interconnected regional issues poses challenging questions that foster critical thinking skills that will help students address 21st century global issues such as: How are indigenous people, minorities, and women represented in the park now and historically? How do limited water resources, population growth, and changing social values determine our relationship to this fragile and stunning landscape? How can we protect a World Heritage Site that is also a “crown jewel” of America’s National Park system and still make it available to nearly six million visitors a year? What are the legal and moral rights of the Native peoples whose ancestors lived in this canyon country for thousands of years? What are our stewardship responsibilities to this unique region of the earth? Students will address these questions and many more by studying the complexities of issues affecting the greater Grand Canyon region and develop transferable skills to engage similar problems in other environments. Using “City as Text” methods, students will come to understand ethics, policy, science, aesthetics, and social justice through multiple lenses. Their knowledge will be scaled to national and global issues through reflective writing assignments designed to transfer the GCS experience to their lives and studies at their home institutions and to better understand their sense of place at their home locals.
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The early application deadline for 2024 is December 15, 2023.
The final application deadline is February 9, 2024.
The GCS offers a life-changing learning experience in the high mountains of northern Arizona and the deep canyon country of the Colorado Plateau.