Longwood at Yellowstone project focuses on issues facing national park’s ecosystem
The federal government this spring announced a controversial proposal to drop endangered species protection for grizzly bears around Yellowstone National Park. Less than three months later, 40 Longwood students were at Yellowstone studying the issue.
This year’s participants in the Longwood at Yellowstone National Park project also observed wolves, grizzlies and bison in the park’s Northern Range (renowned for its diversity of wildlife and opportunity to observe animals in the wild), hiked in Yellowstone’s back country and interviewed residents of nearby communities as part of an oral history project.
This intensive academic program, held every May since 2006, involves multidisciplinary exploration of current, contested stewardship issues in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
“At its core, the LU@YNP program is a laboratory for citizen leadership. We want students to research and understand issues from as many perspectives as possible, and in so doing to practice key skills of civic life,” said Dr. Alix Fink, the Marc Boyd Sharp and Wilma Register Sharp Dean of the Cormier Honors College, who leads the program. “Our first national park is our classroom, but our work is focused on our democracy, our communities and the challenging work of seeking common ground.”
The program involves three days of academic work on campus prior to departure, eight days of work in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and four weeks of research and writing after returning home. Students from more than a dozen majors in Longwood’s three academic colleges participated this year.
— Kent Booty