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This course takes place in Northwestern Montana on successive explorations of the Rocky Mountain Front, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Blackfeet Nation, Glacier National Park, and other locations in western Montana. The course begins and ends in Missoula, Montana.

Permitted activity takes place on the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest. 

Semester Credits

Browse Course Syllabi

3 Semester Credits/4.5 Quarter Units:

Philosophy 323: Ethics of Climate Change
This course focuses on the application of environmental ethics to issues raised by global climate change. Students will learn the essential mechanisms of climate change science, see the effects of climate change on vegetation, fauna, and geological processes in northwestern Montana, and apply environmental ethics to their personal vision for a sustainable future in an era of climate change.

Academic Credit:

All courses offered through the Wild Rockies Field Institute are accredited through the University of Montana and the School for Extended and Lifelong Learning. Each Wild Rockies Field Institute course is approved and supported by University of Montana departmental leadership and faculty.

Quarter System Students:
The “Environmental Ethics” course is worth 3 semester credits. For colleges and universities on the quarter system, the course is typically worth 4.5 quarter system units.

Block System Students:
At institutions where one course is equal to one credit, each class (e.g. PHIL 323) within a WRFI course is typically equal to one credit.

Environmental Ethics Course Description

On “Environmental Ethics” students will experience their academic coursework first-hand as it integrates into a Wilderness backpacking trip, meetings with guest speakers, and site visits. Approximately one-third of the course will be spent in an expeditionary context. When not in the backcountry, the group will camp at designated campsites, on public lands, and occasionally on the property of a gracious guest speaker.

The course will begin in Missoula, Montana where students will meet with climate change scientists and environmental ethics scholars to discuss the current status of climate change and the application of environmental ethics to issues raised by anthropogenic climate change.  From there the group will travel to the Rocky Mountain Front to meet with federal land management agencies, conservation groups and the local farming/ranching community to discuss the effects of climate change.

The Rocky Mountain Front serves as the launching point for a week-long backpacking trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area where students will see the effects of climate change on whitebark pine ecosystems and pika populations in high elevation communities.  A subsequent trip to the Blackfeet Reservation will introduce the group to Native American perspectives on the relationship between the human and non-human world through discussions with tribal elders and educators.  Finally, the group will travel to Glacier National Park to observe and discuss the effects of climate change on glaciers, wolverines, and alpine ecosystems with National Park scientists.

Student coursework will examine the political, social, economic, and cultural changes required to effectively address climate change.  Students will immerse themselves in environmental ethics, climate change science, and conservation biology.  Upon completion of this course, students will be expected to articulate their vision of a truly sustainable future that addresses the challenges of global climate change.

In addition to the academic topics mentioned above, throughout the course students learn and cultivate skills in wilderness travel, minimum impact camping, orienteering, and natural history.