Environmental Education Seminar in the American Southwest

Environmental Education Seminar in the American Southwest

Maria Lally

Lally ZionMaria at the top of Angels Landing, one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park, on her last day working in Utah in the summer of 2016

For my project I developed a 1-credit environmental/wilderness education seminar for college students, focused on the American Southwest, more specifically Zion National Park and its surrounding US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management public lands. The seminar included both in-class meetings and then an immersion trip, a design very similar to seminars within the Center for Social Concerns at Notre Dame.

I research a short history and analysis of environmental/wilderness/outdoor education, what makes it successful, and any established connections between environmental education and sustainable lifestyle practices. Then, I gave an environmental history of the American Southwest, particularly its public lands. Finally both ideas were combined to design a seminar, which will include a course description, course objectives, learning outcomes, and a syllabus.  

I wanted to bridge the gap between conventional classroom experience and outdoor adventure by creating an educational and immersive seminar that emphasizes environmental history and the outdoor opportunities that each of the public lands in the Zion region have to offer. Outdoor education helps humans understand their place within the natural world, and also can inspire greater confidence through activities such as hiking and camping, which may be a new experience for many people.