Program Details

By the end of the program, students will be well versed in species adaptation, climate change concerns and efforts being made to conserve modern day Alaska.
Location:
Anchorage, United States
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:
Undergraduate
Term:
Academic Year, Summer

Program Overview

Program Description:

Prepare to explore awe-inspiring environments characterized by glaciers, fjords, rugged coastlines, extreme tides, jagged mountains, frozen tundra, and geologically active terrain. Our Alaska Program will traverse one of the most remote geological and biological landscapes on the planet, while gaining an understanding and respect for the resilient communities that have persisted in this part of the Arctic for thousands of years.

Transecting from mountain to coast, our field studies will include Alaska’s most impressive national parks and preserves: the Kenai Fjords, the Chugach National Forest, the Wrangell St. Elias mountains, and Denali National and State Park. From research projects in Alaska’s most isolated northern region just adjacent to the Arctic Circle to backpacking amongst tundra, our team will examine the key concepts that establish Arctic ecosystems, the species they support, and the unique environmental challenges they face.

We start our program in Prince William Sound on the Kenai Peninsula and Chugach National Forest, premier spots to study Alaska’s marine environment amidst glaciers and melting ice caps. Here our team will explore the rich intertidal communities that make up the southern edge of the Arctic. We will initiate our field research, conduct a marine debris project, and contribute to local monitoring efforts.  Our field camp next to a stunning fjord system affords us the opportunity to hike active glaciers and discover how these extraordinary masses of ice have shaped the environment, but now are shrinking rapidly.  We will also become familiar with Alaska’s major fisheries and discuss the controversial criteria necessary for these industries to be sustainable. 

Alaska’s active geological systems are our next field focus as we travel through newly dormant volcanoes and widespread hot springs in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and surrounding Chena River State Recreation area.  Here we will compare and contrast different energy sources as we meet with operators to tour a nearby geothermal plant, and paradoxically, observe the neighboring Trans-Alaska Pipeline.  Moving north, we will immerse ourselves in tundra landscape and analyze how carbon cycling, climate, and Arctic ecosystems are impacted by thawing permafrost and melting ice. In Denali National Park, we will discuss the concept of wilderness and how our individual and personal connection to the environment is directly tied to conservation. Our observations of iconic Alaskan wildlife will showcase amazing ecological adaptations, and we end the program with a first-hand assessment of the tallest mountain peak in North America.      

Alaska is the perfect setting to collectively study Arctic ecosystems, and the program is guaranteed to provide students with a deep understanding of the Arctic, the unprecedented environmental challenges faced by this region, and the measures that can be taken to solve these complex, environmental challenges.   

Setting Description:
Camping, backpacking, research stations
Cost:
$5500 USD.

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