Weber State University is offering a new study program this summer at Lakeview, Mont., from July 27 to Aug. 2. Students will have the opportunity to practice creative non-fiction writing, sketching and painting in the wilderness of the Centennial Valley.
This is the first year that the Environmental Humanities Education Center has invited educational groups to utilize the facility. The center lies within a restored ghost town and is located within 50 miles of Yellowstone National Park.
Participants will be under the direction of WSU faculty
[media-credit name=”Larry Clarkson” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Hal Crimmel, English professor and chair of the WSU Environmental Issues Committee, and Larry Clarkson, assistant professor of visual arts and member of the WSU Environmental Issues Committee.
While Crimmel has led writing-on-the-land trips and Clarkson has led drawing-on-the-land trips, both said that studying abroad is more beneficial to art and writing than simply learning in the classroom.
“It is more holistic to be there and actually experience it,” Crimmel said. “To have your body move through that space, feel the sun on your skin and feel the ground under your feet . . . it is really quite profound, and it opens people up to the possibility of absorbing something new.”
The course cost is $500-$700 for seven days. This price includes WSU credit, transportation, housing, meals and all activities. According to Crimmel, this low price was made possible by Susie and Elliot Hulet and the Office of the Provost, who are providing scholarships for the course.
“What this means is that Weber State University administration and people that are interested in Weber State want students to take this class,” said Crimmel. “They think it is really valuable for students to have this opportunity.”
Both Crimmel and Clarkson said that these study abroad trips can be very satisfying. Crimmel said that it is very rewarding to see students grow and change while they are studying on the land.
“I think most students don’t remember much about what happens in the classroom . . . The things that I think students remember are classes like this,” Crimmel said. “It really provides a long-lasting, memorable experience that for some may have an immediate impact, and for others it is long term.”
WSU graduate Misty Evans said that she experienced this long-term impact. She participated in a study trip to Dinosaur National Park with Crimmel in the summer of 2005 that she said changed everything for her.
“It allows you to really reflect on yourself and your life while learning,” Evans said. “When you’re completely removed from friends and family with a group of strangers in the middle of nowhere, writing and reflecting on your life and sharing it with others . . . things change.”
Evans is currently living in Italy where she said she is still writing non-fiction in her spare time. She also said that she recommends this type of study abroad trip to anyone.
“There is absolutely nothing as valuable as a study abroad trip for a person’s education or personal growth,” Evans said.
Clarkson explained the difference between this study abroad trip and others that take place outside of the United States. He said that this particular study abroad trip to Montana will be about discovering yourself.
“When you do a study abroad in another country, you are experiencing that other country’s culture and point of view. In this one, it is like you are discovering your own point of view,” Clarkson said. “You are discovering more about yourself as an artist, as a writer, or as a person.”
Clarkson was born and raised in Utah and said that he has taken advantage of all that the environment has to offer. He said that he is an avid back-country skier, enjoys hiking, kayaking and fly fishing. He also said one of his favorite things to do on these trips is see students grow and change.
“They are great classes because you really start to see students do new things and approach their art in a whole new way,” Clarkson said. “It comes out of them and their experience rather than the professor giving them a point of view.”
Participants will have the option to stay in a bunkhouse or rent a private cabin for a higher price. Activities will include horseback riding, hiking, bird watching and other possibilities dependent upon weather. All meals will be catered by a resident chef, and students will be transported by bus.
Students may receive WSU credit for the following classes: Art 2015, Art 4900, ENGL 3350, or MENG 6610. A $100 non-refundable deposit is due March 15, 2012, and space is limited. For more information, visit http://continue.weber.edu/studyabroad/events/montana.