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Undergraduate Program

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Undergraduate Course Offerings for 2014


































Environmental Law









Nature Writing


Nature Writing





Session #1 (June 14- July 12, 2014)

  • Aquatic Ecology (Carrie Kissman; Biology, St. Norbert College, DePere, Wisconsin)

  • Boreal Mammalogy (Roger Powell; Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina)

  • Ornithology (Roarke Donnelly; Biology, Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, Georgia)

  • Independent Study (Staff)


Session #2 (July 12- August 7, 2014)



Aquatic Ecology

Aquatic ecology is the study of the aquatic life and how it interacts with the biological, physical, and chemical environment. In this course, we will explore the diversity, abundance, and distribution of aquatic organisms in the diverse aquatic ecosystems available at the Wilderness Field Station, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park.

Carrie Kissman (St. Norbert College, DePere, Wisconsin)

Click here for Aquatic Ecology full course description

Boreal Mammalogy


Humans are fascinated by mammals.  We keep them as pets and are thrilled to see them cross our yard or path, yet we are annoyed when they nest in our sock drawer, pilfer our bird feeder, or eat our rosebush.  The study of mammals is exciting, educational, and rewarding, and can serve as the focus for understanding many important concepts and principles of ecology, behavior, systematics, and evolution.  In this course we will examine the basic biology of the mammals of Northern Minnesota.  We will study their classification, natural history, behavior, distribution, and their interactions with their environment and other organisms.  We will study them directly by conducting mark-recapture trapping studies of small mammals and we will study them indirectly by looking for signs of their activity.  We will learn about the ecology and behavior of mammals through readings, discussion, group and independent research projects, and most importantly, direct observation of mammals and their sign on canoe trips into the BWCAW. 

Prerequisite: One college biology course.

Roger Powell (North Carolina State University, Raleigh North Carolina)

Click here for Boreal Mammalogy full course description


OrnithologyHumans have long been interested in birds because they are charismatic, fellow vertebrates and reliable indicators of environmental conditions. Our interest has made the scientific study of birds (ornithology), one of the richest animal-based sciences. This course introduces ornithology and focuses on the breeding biology and ecology of the diverse avifauna nesting in pristine and moderately disturbed habitats near the field station. Canoe trips provide opportunities to practice bird identification, to discuss the adaptiveness of bird anatomy and physiology, and to observe nesting gulls, herons, and Bald Eagles. This course satisfies the lab science requirement and elective credit requirements for biology majors in most schools.

Prerequisite: None.

Roarke Donnelly (Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, Georgia)

Click here for Ornithology full course description

Animal Behavior

Animal behaviorAnimals engage in a bewildering diversity of behaviors: moths "jam" the sonar of bats, wasps try to mate with flowers, whales communicate over kilometers of open ocean, and bees "dance" to tell their sisters when and where to forage. In this class we will explore both the ways scientists have tried to unravel the mysteries of animal behavior and the understanding that this research has provided. The unifying principle of most modern studies of animal behavior studies is that behavior, like morphology, physiology or cellular processes, has evolved under natural selection. To begin to fully understand animal behavior, however, we will look at behavior from several perspectives, including its physiological, genetic and environmental causes as well as its adaptive significance. We will review studies from around the world and apply what we learn from these to questions about species found in the boundary waters region.

Prerequisite: One college biology course.

Harlo Hadow (Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Click here for Animal Behavior full course description

Comparative Environmental Politics:
United States and Canada

How do different societies address environmental problems? Answering this question requires cross-national comparisons of political institutions, regulatory styles, and state-society relations. This course relies on the theoretical tools of comparative politics to analyze different areas of environmental management, such as protection of natural resources, wilderness preservation, contamination and transboundary pollution management, global warming, renewable energy, and sustainability, among others. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park provide an ideal location to explore how Canada and the United States address their environmental challenges at different levels of analysis, from the local to the international. Students conduct field research on both sides of the border, engage in discussions on nature conservation with members of the local community and take canoe trips to places of key environmental significance to record and analyze different patterns of wilderness management. The course is designed for undergraduate students with an interest in environmental studies and social research methods, but no previous knowledge of political science is needed. While grounded on comparative politics and social science methodologies, the course also draws from the natural sciences, economics, sociology, anthropology, history, religious studies and ethics to help students develop an interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies.

Prerequisite:  None.

Pablo Toral (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin)

Click here for Comparative Environmental Politics:  United States and Canada full course description

Nature Writing

Nature WritingThis course investigates strategies for writing about the natural world in an informal workshop format. Class members explore the terrain around the Field Station and share with each other their written observations about those experiences. The composition assignments invite everyone to express their insights in various genre options: daily field journals, essays, poetry, short fiction, journalistic articles, memoirs, etc. By exploring and writing about this immersion into the north woods--plus reading works by such classic naturalists as Thoreau, Muir, Leopold, Olson, and McPhee--we should all gain a richer understanding of our relationship with the wilderness.

Prerequisite: None.

Bob Marrs (Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Click here for Nature Writing full course description.

This could be the learning adventure of your life!

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