A unique approach to environmental field studies.

We offer students an immersive and personal experience with important environmental and cultural issues facing our wildlands and the cultures they support. Our small student teams travel to the heart of where today’s environmental challenges occur, and together we seek solutions for the critical concerns facing our world’s wildlands. Students have an unparalleled opportunity to work side by side with our faculty and active researchers, helping to find answers to important environmental problems. Our overarching goal is to have students leave our program with extensive knowledge about a specific region and the broader skills and understanding of ecological, geological and social sciences to effectively evaluate this information in their future careers.

Invertebrate sampling on Mekong.jpg

Bring your classroom to life.

Widlands Studies courses are taught outside the classroom. Our faculty use a mixture of teaching methods from formal lecture to informal hands-on experience in a variety of field settings from backcountry excursions, to field research, information exchanges with local experts and participation in key community events. Our hands-on approach to learning and focus on our immediate surroundings is what often ignites a student’s excitement and can result in increased interest in academics.


Affordable immersion.

Wildlands Studies field programs are affordable—at a fraction of other field and study abroad programs—and financial aid may apply. Our academic term programs offer just the right balance of intensive academic coursework, and enough time left in the quarter
to explore on your own.


Gain experience.

Wildlands Studies students develop many hard skills through our programs, such as field research skills and techniques, scientific writing, oral presentation skills, synthesizing information and thinking critically. Students also cultivate soft skills, such as working in a group, learning to observe and listen, flexibility and self-motivation. Interpersonal skills are high regarded in many career fields, and hands on experience with hard skills will give a student an edge in graduate school, the Peace Corps, fellowships, internships and job applications. In addition, a Wildlands Studies programs can ignite a new career direction for students by helping clarify future goals through hands on experience


Data driven.

Students study primary research, field manuals, environmental impact assessments and planning documents, and also consume published research, case studies and government research. They may confer with public land management officials and staff, and attend guest lectures featuring speakers from relevant wildlands and wildlife management agencies, researchers from nearby universities, conservation organizations and a wide variety of interest groups.


Experts in the field.

Our faculty hold either a PhD or MS, and both author and lead our field programs. The programs they lead are dynamic too, evolving to keep apace of changes in data and relevant science.

Faculty hail from around the world and are subject matter experts in the topics they teach. They share a concern about the impact of development and growth on the natural world.


How is academic credit established?

Western Washington University establishes academic credit based on contact hours from the amount of work expected from a typical student in a class, laboratory or similar setting. We equate our course offerings within the Western Washington guidelines, while providing field based, experiential, intensive learning experiences.

Students on our programs have contact with their instructors for eight to ten hours each day, six to seven days a week for the entire length of the program. A typical morning starts with a discussion of the day’s events over breakfast, followed by a lecture or seminar. Field research work often follows, with day ending with dinner and an after dinner discussion or debrief.

There’s little downtime on programs—just a half-day or so to do laundry and chores, every week or two. Many students do their assigned reading, prepare papers and other assignments early in the morning or in the evenings, after the structured part of instruction has concluded.

This level of contact—about eight contact hours a day for an estimated thirty-six academic teaching days—totals 288 contact hours, or about double the amount required by students with an average course load of 15-quarter credits. Keep in mind too, that many of our programs are longer than thirty-six days, most are forty--four and some forty-six.

Many students have told us that the rigor of their field program resulted in a richer, more satisfying learning experience than in a typical
classroom-based quarter.

WS Australia team photo.jpg

Your teammates will amaze you.

Participants of Wildlands Studies field studies programs are a diverse group from all over North America and also other parts of the world. In fact, we’ve got students participating from more than fifty universities.

Generally our participants are undergraduate students in their freshman to senior year or recent college graduates. We occasionally have participants who have already graduated and are looking to build their resume with field research experience or intend to apply for graduate school.


The profile of the ideal student. 

Students seeking outdoor field study are an ideal fit for our programs. They will get the most out of the experience if they are flexible, open, patient, are self-motivated and willing to work toward a common goal. A sense of humor is always welcome and a plus.  

Successful students tend to embrace being outdoors regardless of the weather. They want the experience of living in rustic areas and have an enthusiasm for new experiences, people and places.


Be empowered.

Students leave our projects with a broad, global perspective. Living and working in another country or region provides an eye-opening and life-changing perspective on culture, including their own. Program teams create their own tight-knit community, where students learn to collaborate, share and give—all life skills that transcend career choice and result in greater maturity and self-confidence.