Essay Writing: Alaska & Char

Essay Writing on Nature: Alaska and its Char—Anchorage, Alaska
In this experientially-based learning course, we will study and write about Alaska’s three native species of the char genus Salvelinus: arctic char (S.alpinus), Dolly Varden trout (S.malma), and lake trout (S.namaycush). After learning about the evolutionary histories, diets, habits, and life cycles of these fish, and exploring firsthand their local ecosystems, we will let these three species and the ecological challenges they face in the 21st century serve as a window and narrative vehicle for exploring and writing about several broader environmental issues in Alaska related to climate change, the oil industry, mining, invasive species, fishing pressure, and development.
For the first week and a half, the class will be based in Anchorage, with field trips into the Chugach Mountains directly east of the city as well as to river systems within the city. Student will then participate in a required four-day wilderness float trip to explore the Matanuska River northeast of Anchorage. For the final two weeks, the class will be based in the city of Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula with field trips to various Kenai Peninsula waters. In addition to regular field trips to ecosystems inhabited by char, the course will also feature numerous guest lectures in fisheries biology, ecology, Alaskan native culture, environmental issues, and writing. The class will typically meet four full days per week including field trips, class discussion, and writing workshop. This schedule will allow for four-day weekends after the first and third week of the course to provide an opportunity for students to explore Alaska on their own, or to take part in optional non-course activities such as a sea-kayaking trip in Kachamak Bay (out of Homer) or Resurrection Bay (out of Seward).
Students should be fit enough to hike 5 to 7 miles with backpacks, and must be willing to camp in wilderness settings. Students will be expected to adhere to all safety policies. Interested students should submit a one-page writing sample to Prof. Dickerson, dickerso@middlebury.edu, (preferably of narrative non-fiction), along with an additional one-page personal statement expressing interest in the course. Include in the personal statement your major, a favorite previous class at Middlebury College, and a description of any wilderness camping, hiking, or first-aid experience and skills you have. (Prior wilderness experience is not a prerequisite for the class, but the instructors would like to make plans based on the prior experiences of participants.) Dr. David O’Hara, (Middlebury ’91) will collaborate with Prof. Dickerson in teaching the class. O’Hara has a PhD in Philosophy from Pennsylvania State University, and is an Associate Professor at Augustana College in Sioux Falls. He regularly teaches environmental philosophy in Belize and Guatemala in the month of January. This is a unique travel- and writing- based course offering students an experience distinct from that offered in creative writing workshops during the regular semester. This course therefore does not count as a CRWR workshop in the Department of English and American Literatures. (Approval required)
Dates: July 20 to August 14
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SUMR 1001

All Sections in Summer Study 2015

Summer Study 2015

SUMR1001A-L15 Seminar (Dickerson)