Wild Rockies Field Institute

Wild Rockies Summer Semester

Dates: June 19-July 30, 2018

Cost: $8,395

Semester Credits : 12

Natural Resource Science & Management 311: Conservation Biology in the Northern Rockies (3 credits)

Environmental Studies 395/Natural Resource Science & Management 311: Community-Based Conservation in the Northern Rockies (3 credits)

Native American Studies 351: Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Action (3 credits)

Geography 348: Environmental Geography of the Northern Rockies (3 credits)

Apply Here!

*Please note, there is an online portion for this course for three weeks prior to the start date and for three weeks following the end date that extend the duration of the course to meet University of Montana requirements. Please contact the WRFI office for details.


Study conservation issues on a spectacular backpacking course with WRFI this summer. We focus our explorations in the Crown of the Continent region with a series of backcountry trips and frontcountry meetings with regional community and conservation leaders. We will finish the course in the wildly beautiful Canadian Rockies. This course examines conservation at a regional scale, using conservation biology principles, a Native American perspective, and examples of collaboration as a means to uncover a holistic understanding of these issues.

This course area is the heart of a bioregion known as the Crown of the Continent. The focal point of this region is the Triple Divide Peak, a mountain in Glacier National Park that divides the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic watersheds in North America. The surrounding mountain ecosystem stretches from the southern edge of the spectacular Mission Mountains of Montana to the heart of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. This region includes some of the most intact wildlands in North America, and is also home to many rapidly growing human communities. Conserving these critical wildlife habitats while making room for expanding human development is a tremendous and complex challenge. We will examine this challenge through the lenses of geography, conservation biology, community-based conservation, regional environmental policy, and traditional ecological knowledge.

Our backpacking trips will take us through core habitat areas where we will learn about local natural history, population biology, and disturbance ecology. Our frontcountry travels will take us to “fracture zones” – places where transportation routes and extractive industry limit wildlife movements. During frontcountry sections we will meet with an array of people concerned with conservation in the region: land managers, tribal leaders, environmental activists, and industry representatives.

To complement and deepen these travels, we will introduce students to traditional knowledge and practices. Students will attend a variety of talks by tribal members, which range from sittings with tribal elders on ecological and spiritual perspectives to presentations by tribal officials on the significance of traditional values and practices as they relate to current tribal conservation efforts.

The future of this region will evolve from a conversation between people and the land. Our goal is to give students the knowledge and experience needed to productively participate in regional conservation issues. Students leaving this course will understand the biogeography and politics of the Crown of the Continent region, appreciate the natural processes, communities and economies that have shaped it, and have some ideas about the future prospects for wildness and humanity here. We hope to involve you in that conversation, please join us!

Permitted activity will take place on Lewis and Clark National Forest.


Enrollment will be limited to ten [10] students. Our courses are multidisciplinary and our students come from all majors. There are no academic prerequisites for any of our courses. The best background is a sense of curiosity, a willingness to take responsibility for your academic growth, and a love of adventure. No prior backcountry experience is necessary, but this is a physically demanding course and students are advised to arrive good physical condition. This course takes place in high elevation settings and some backpacking sections will be physically challenging.

WRFI accepts students on a rolling admission basis and will review applications immediately upon receiving them. Currently, WRFI is accepting applications for all 2018 courses.

The first payment of 25% of tuition will be due three weeks after acceptance.

*All students on this WRFI course must have a passport.

Apply Here!


$8,395 per student covers tuition, dinner food, on-course transportation from Missoula, Montana (and return), group camping and cooking gear, maps, and field guides. Participants supply their own breakfasts and lunches, and to print and bind the course text. An additional $620 filing fee is required to receive academic credit for the course from the University of Montana.

< Back to Courses