Dr. Holley Friedlander, Mathematics and Computer Science

Exploring American Wilderness
First Year Seminar

Course Syllabus: FYSM Exploring American Wilderness

I participated in the Valley and Ridge program to prepare a new first-year seminar, “Exploring American Wilderness.” The course was meant to analyze attitudes and policy related to wilderness in the United States, both the environmental effects and social implications. In addition, the first-year seminar teaches analytic writing, critical thinking, and information literacy. At the start of the workshop, I had a sizable list of potential topics, but the course lacked structure. Valley and Ridge provided a much needed space to organize my content. By connecting each topic with one of the three components of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social, I was able to create a more coherent and focused narrative for the course. The workshop helped me generate ideas for placed-based learning activities and introduced me to new readings that I have integrated into the course. As a mathematician, the opportunity to connect with faculty outside my discipline, who share my interest in sustainability, to discuss teaching strategies for writing and discussion-based courses was extremely valuable.
As a result of the workshop, I have reorganized my course into three sections: defining, managing, and accessing wilderness. The new structure allows for a more natural integration of sustainability concepts in the second two-thirds of the course. I have taken suggestions of my colleagues on ideas for class activities and have scheduled placed-based learning trips to Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Reineman Wildlife Sanctuary. I now have a better sense of the sustainability programing offered at Dickinson and can advise interested students more effectively.