ENED 4601 Wilderness Philosophy
Course Syllabus
Fall 2007


Contact Information:

Instructor: Tom Beery             www.d.umn.edu/~tbeery
Office: Engineering 235          tbeery@d.umn.edu
726-7333                                 Office hours:  M 1-3, W 9-11, F 9-11


The goal of this course is to deepen your understanding of the constructs* 'wilderness' and “wildness” as these terms apply to land ideas management and philosophy.  It is important to understand Wilderness from a standpoint of federal designation, as well as a deeper understanding of the idea of wilderness and wild places.


*The US EPA defines a construct as A concept that describes and includes a number of characteristics or attributes. The concepts are often unobservable ideas or abstractions.


The following questions will be investigated in our effort to understand wilderness:


  • What is wilderness?
  • What is wildness as it applies to the concept of land and community?
  • How is American History important to the understanding of wilderness?
  • What have other American thinkers said about wilderness?
  • Is there an essential value to wilderness?
  • What is a land ethic?
  • How does a land ethic contribute to land management?
  • What is the future of American wilderness?
  • What is the value of a personal relationship with wild places?






Sept. 10

In class reading—Chapter 2 in WE

Introduction:  The value of discussion and participation.


Personal beliefs/overview [personal def'ns]

Trip preparation


Necessity of Empty Places:  The Big Horns of Wyoming

(web and reserve)




Chapters 2, 6-12 in WE

Wilderness Definitions


Wilderness by the numbers




Trip preparation

21—optional meeting, (10-11 AM)


Gear organization and check out for overnight trip


Home Economics:  Getting Along with Nature & Preserving Wildness (on website)


On the trail reading of Leopold

A personal connection with wilderness


Leave No Trace


Post-trip night off!



October 1

Wilderness Defined


American Wilderness History



The Land Ethic, pp. 237-261

A Land Ethic…your land ethic



The Romantic Wilderness


A Journey to Lake Baikal

Art, wilderness and the Group of Seven


Exam review provided





Indigenous relationships with the land—from Papago villages to Midsommar



 ASSIGNMENT #2 a, b, c, d or e DUE


Candy Peterson jigsaw reading (on-line)


Wild Isle (on-line)

Sense of place


Isle Royale National Park


Presentations from Assignment 1 

November 5

BWCA Reading from Gruchow TBA


Lob Trees in the Wilderness:  Red Pine Lob Tree (on-line)


True Wilderness (website link)

Wilderness Issues discussion and in –class preparation for the Issues Forum.



The BWCA: Our Northwoods  Wilderness Heritage


Wilderness Visionary: Sigurd Olson (video)


Issues Forum presentation



Issues Forum


Assorted Alaska readings on-line


NG Adventure reading (on-line)


Duluth News Tribune article

Alaska—a unique part of American Wilderness


Wilderness—on the edge looking in. Pedal to the Midnight Sun

December 3


Personal Reflections

Dec 10

Chapter 5 & 13 in WE

Conclusion—The role of Wilderness Education


A new land ethic



1.      Lamb, Jennifer. (2006).  Wilderness ethics:  valuing and managing wild places.  Stackpole Books:  Mechanicsburg, PA.

2.      Leopold, Aldo. (1949). A sand county almanac. Ballantine Books. New York.



1.      Wilderness Exam (25 points)

A short answer/essay test to assess knowledge of wilderness history, status and management in the US Wilderness Preservation System. The seven principles of LNT will be included in this exam.


2.      Complete one of the following:


a.      Wilderness Visionary Report (25 Points)—complete an essay on the contribution of one of the wilderness visionaries as discussed in class, i.e. a person significant to the history of wilderness in North America.  See Chapter 3 in WE text. (5-10 pages w/ a min. of 5 sources, at least 3 non internet based-APA):

b.      Wilderness Powerpoint (25 Points)—Provide a detailed history of the establishment of a US designated Wilderness area.  Include information on the landscape and natural features of the site, i.e. what is the significance of this site?  Also include key players, timeline, opposition to the designation and other interesting and relevant details to the process. Work with a partner. (10-20 slides with a min. of 7 sources, at least 3 non internet based-APA)

c.      Wilderness Interview (25 points)—Interview a regional authority on a wilderness related subject.  Using the interview as a base, access sources recommended by your interviewee and support or challenge the ideas discussed in the interview.  Interview questions, interview write-up and interview reflection paper with a min. of 2 sources (APA). Confirm interview choice w/ instructor—instructor can assist in making contact with potential interviewees.

d.      Conrad Richter Trilogy Essay (25 points)—read the classic trilogy of American pioneer expansion, The Trees, The Fields and The Town.  Use the story of Sayward Luckett to discuss American wilderness—explore Richter’s ideas about wilderness and the American experience.  Relate these works to at least three other works studied in this class.  Essay must be at least 5 pages in length.

e.      Wilderness Adventure (25 points)

Plan and conduct a weekend trip to one of the following regional wilderness areas with a min. of two other classmates:


·         Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, WI (sea kayak skills required)

·         Porcupine Mountains State Park, MI (backpack skills required)

·         Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (canoe skills required)


With each of the above trips you must supply the following prior to departure:


                                                               i.      Detailed intinerary

                                                             ii.      List of safety concerns and precautions (RAMS form)

                                                            iii.      List of wilderness regulations

                                                           iv.      Copy of map

                                                            v.      Equipment list

                                                           vi.      “pioneer report”—a 3 page paper detailing the role a wilderness visionary played in the protection of the wilderness area (or why they are associated with the particular area);  min. of two sources-APA:

                                                         vii.      AINL—Gaylord Nelson

                                                        viii.      PMSP—Ben East and Raymond Dick

                                                           ix.      BWCAW—Sigurd Olson


Upon return, you must submit:


a.      copy of your permit

b.      personal reflection of the trip (3 pages) and be willing to present an oral overview of the experience to the class (non-formal presentation)


3.      South Fowl Lake and Chain of Lakes Issue Forum (25 points)

This will be a two issue panel discussion.  Each student will be assigned a position on a current BWCAW issue; small teams will craft a presentation to provide a thoughtful and detailed articulation of their position.  Additional assignment information will be available in class on Nov. 5.


4.      Personal Wilderness Philosophy (25 points)

Your personal view on wilderness: What is wilderness?  What does wilderness means to you?  What is/are the value/s you perceive?  What is the future of American Wilderness? 5 pages using a minimum of 8 sources-APA (at least 4 of the sources need to be non-internet based). You will need to be able to present your ideas in an informal discussion setting on the due date of December 3rd.


5.      Participation Points (50 points)

You will be awarded points for active participation—this will come in a number of different forms and will award those students who have completed the course readings and are prepared to discuss the assigned topics.  A full 25 points will come from camp trip participation; there is a class overnight field trip to Crosby Manitou State Park scheduled for 9/22-23.  Details provided on day one of class.




All written work is due at the beginning of class on the due date. No late assignments will be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made. All work must be typed, double spaced with references cited in APA format (see above references for example).



 A = 90%

 B = 80%

 C = 70%

 D = 60%


Note: Individuals who have any disability, either permanent or temporary, which might affect their ability to perform in this class, are encouraged to inform the instructor at the start of the quarter. Adaptations of methods, materials or testing procedures may be made as required to provide for more equitable participation.


In addition, field experiences are an essential component to the outdoor education we must acknowledge the inherent risk of field program participation. Leaving campus presents risk management concerns including transportation and field site based dangers.  In order to avoid problems and strengthen our risk management awareness, it is each student’s responsibility to behave in a manner that promotes personal and group safety while in the field.  Any questions, concerns, specific medical information, etc. should be directed to the instructor as a part of a shared effort to ensure a safe and optimal learning environment.