Please note: The Stewardship of Public Lands faculty development seminar will not be held during the summer of 2017 as the park hotel is being renovated and will not be available for programming. Instead, we will hold our next seminar in May 21-26, 2018. More details, including how to register, will be forthcoming in the fall of 2017.
Throughout the United States, but especially in the West, the question
of who will control public lands is a hotly debated topic. The public
lands of the West, including national parks, forests, grazing lands and
prairie lands, are all sites of controversy. The major points of
contention are inevitably over use of the public resources. Timber,
mining, oil and gas producers, developers, farmers, ranchers, hunters,
business owners, recreational users and environmentalists are all
groups who assert claims to influence and use public lands. Yet whose
interests have primacy? And in a democracy, how should the interests of
all of these groups be addressed and resolved?
The Stewardship of Public Lands Seminar in Yellowstone National Park offers faculty members at AASCU institutions a set of experiences, materials and insights to teach students about how conflicts are adjudicated, managed and resolved in a democracy. Through this Yellowstone Seminar, faculty members learn new approaches to preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy. Studying conflict management and resolution contributes substantially to the development of important citizenship skills: listening to the views of others, presenting arguments for your own position, engaging in dialogue and deliberation, using critical thinking, seeking common ground rather than polarized positions, et cetera. These are skills that help students prepare to be fully engaged, both as citizens in a democracy and as participants in a global economy.
For the past 11 summers, faculty representatives from participating AASCU institutions have spent a week in Yellowstone National Park with our partner, Yellowstone Forever, studying controversies about wolves, bison, snowmobiles and grizzlies. To date, more than 180 faculty members from more than 80 campuses have participated in the program. Each summer, the week-long program begins with study of the science and history of the controversies, listening to scientists and park rangers. Then at the end of the week, the faculty participants travel beyond the park boundaries to interview local citizens on both sides of the issues, including political activists, business people, environmentalists and ranchers, as well as representatives from organizations that represent various stakeholders. Faculty then return to their campuses to design programs for students, some focused on the controversies in the Yellowstone ecosystem, others focused on local public land and resource issues.
Over the past 11 years, faculty participants in the Yellowstone Seminar have developed a variety of projects and activities for their own students. For example, in 2007, a group of participants created a documentary entitled Mammoth to Mammoth about this initiative. A number of former participants have created their own unique programs in Yellowstone for their own undergraduates. Students led by former Yellowstone Seminar participants have come to Yellowstone during the summer, in fall and spring sessions, and in winter. They have come for as little as three days, and as long as two weeks. Many of the faculty program developers use the services of the Yellowstone Association to assist them as they design and execute their programs. Many other former Yellowstone Seminar participants have created programs on their own campuses and in their own regions about public lands or public resource issues, modeling their program on the Yellowstone Seminar experience. In 2010, the Stewardship of Public Lands: A Handbook for Educators monograph was released, detailing the work of the AASCU institutions as they explore the various issues surrounding the controversies over public lands. This monograph is available for purchase on the AASCU website (see Resources, below).
Work is underway to
create a national blended course based on the Yellowstone Seminar. This course, part of AASCU's National Blended Course Consortium, is being developed by faculty members from a group of AASCU campuses, along with instructional
designers, videographers, graphic designers and other experts.
the course will be made available for use on AASCU campuses
throughout the United States. AASCU has already created a rich
repository of materials for the course, including more than 25 stakeholder interviews. In addition, we have
entered into an agreement with the National Park Service (NPS), which
will make many NPS resources available for use in the course. This agreement will also grant students who are enrolled in the course free access to U.S. national parks. Learn more about the National Blended Course Consortium here.