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Fall 2018 Wolves in Oregon

What’s going on now

  • How can we make room for large carnivores on a human-dominated landscape?
  • How do you understand, respect, and balance diverse, conflicting interests?
  • How do ecological and social considerations frame and constrain policy options?
  • How do policies succeed and fail in incorporating stakeholder viewpoints and values?
  • How do those policies play out “on the ground?”
  • And what about the wolves themselves?

Wolves present a complex, thorny environmental issue that can provide insights into the interplay of ecology, sociology and policy. In this interdisciplinary field-based course, we are using wolf conservation as a timely case study to explore tensions such as the dynamics between state and federal policies, urban and rural economies and values, and ecological and social concerns. Over the summer, students conducted background reading and research, identified stakeholder perspectives and created  interview questions. During Week 0, we took a 7-day camping trip to northeastern Oregon, meeting with people—environmentalists, hunters, ranchers, policy makers, biologists, tribal representatives—along the way. Now back on campus, students are participating in a weekly class and group project to reflect upon and integrate what they heard, observed, and considered during the field trip. This course made possible by the Tom and Carol Williams Fund for Undergraduate Education.