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Undergraduate Program

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Undergraduate Course Offerings for 2015







Aquatic Ecology


Aquatic Ecology








Group photo


































Tracking a marten











Nature Writing

Nature Writing


Session I (June 13- July 11, 2015)

Session II (July 18- August 15, 2015)



Aquatic EcologyAquatic 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.


Comparative Environmental Politics:
U.S. and Canada

This course introduces the students to field-based research in the social sciences. Students will become familiar with survey research by learning data-collection techniques such as participant observation and interviewing techniques. Students will also learn to record, analyze and present data. They will conduct research from two different cases of wilderness preservation, the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area in the United States and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. Cross-national comparisons of political institutions, regulatory styles, and state-society relations will reveal different styles of environmental management and wilderness preservation. Students will interview key stakeholders on both sides of the border, including members of native communities (called "first nations" in Canada), business groups, environmental groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and government. The course is designed for undergraduate students with an interest in environmental studies and social research methods, but no previous knowledge of political science or research methods is needed. Students considering graduate school will find this course particularly valuable because many graduate programs in the social sciences require strong field research skills.

Prerequisite: None.

Pablo Toral (Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin)

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

Comparative Politics


Pileated WoodpeckerHumans 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

Animals 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.


Boreal Mammalogy

MartenHumans 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.

Stephen Pugh (University of New Hampshire, Manchester)

Click here for Boreal Mammalogy 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 ("DR. 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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