Course Details

Course offered Autumn 2019

HONORS 230 F: Parks in Progress or Peril? An exploration of the mission, values, and future of the US National Park System (SSc)

HONORS 230 F: Parks in Progress or Peril? An exploration of the mission, values, and future of the US National Park System (SSc)

SLN 22942 (View UW registration info »)

Aley Mills Willis (Honors Program; Advisor)
Office: 211 Mary Gates Hall, Box 352800
Phone: 221-6074
Laura Harrington (Office of the Youth Protection Coordinator)
Office: MGH 211, Box 352800
Phone: 205 543-7444
Brook Kelly (Honors Program; Advisor)
Office: MGH 211, Box 352800
Phone: 206.221.6131

Credits: 5
Limit: 9 students

Honors Credit Type

Students enrolled in this course must complete both the Field Study trip in September and the follow up course in Autumn Quarter

Field Study dates: September 3rd – 15th.

$600 fee to cover travel, lodging and food expenses for field study component. Fee due July 1, 2019

NOTE: as of May 2, this course has reached capacity. You may complete the form below to request placement on our waitlist, which will be maintained through the summer.

Complete this form for add code: Add codes will be distributed beginning May 10, 2019.

Students will participate in a two week trip from Mount Rainier National Park to Olympic National Park to North Cascades National Park. No camping or backpacking experience is required, but an open mind and a sense of adventure are! Students should be comfortable hiking moderately strenuous trails almost every day of the trip, camping in remote locations, and traveling and lodging in primitive and close quarters.

America’s National Park system, the first of its kind in the world, has been called, “the best idea America ever had”, a sentiment echoed repeatedly since it was first uttered by James Bryce in 1912. This course will examine the history of this unique idea, as well as the mission and values behind it. What do national parks mean to people? To the flora and fauna within? And what does it mean for a country to set aside the space for nearly 400 natural, cultural, and recreational sites and attempt to leave them “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations”? How is this idea progressing? How might it be in peril? The mission behind this unique system provides an excellent framework for discussing America’s history, environmental ethics, political values, and much more.

This course will take students on an exciting two week field study to the three “wilderness jewels” of Washington state’s National Parks: Mount Rainier NP, Olympic NP, and North Cascades NP in September and follow with class time in Autumn Quarter. By examining the Park Service’s goals of enjoyment (recreation), education (in both history and culture, and nature and science), and inspiration, students will answer for themselves some important questions: Why does this system exist and what is its purpose in our culture? How have current political, economic and environmental pressures challenged the mission and values of the park system? Does this system, given these challenges, effectively accomplish its own goals and are those goals still relevant in America today? If so, why? If not, how might they be adjusted to become culturally viable?

Through a combination of immersed field study to three major national parks, readings, and expert speakers, students will not only introduce themselves to these diverse and unique places in our country, but also gain a greater understanding of the purpose of such a system and look critically at the cultural and environmental issues impacting the National Parks today.