I. During summer 2015, Bob Pahre and I took ten students to Colorado and Utah, to study the politics of national parks. It was certainly one of the most interdisciplinary course I'd ever helped teach. Over the course of two weeks, Pahre and I managed to cover a wide range of topics, including Native American studies, women and gender studies, public policy, American history, environmental politics, and biology. By helping create the course and grade the coursework, I learned so much about these various topics, and how they fit together. If I wasn't convinced that interdisciplinary scholarship and experiential learning are natural bedfellows, this course really drove that home for me.
I also learned that it can rain every single day for two weeks, even in the desert. I've never been so grateful for my "well just in case..." method of packing that led me to pack rain gear for two weeks in the desert.
II. Meanwhile, Pahre and I were in the final stages of planning for our online experiential learning course. With the help of Cheng Li and the indomitable Kate LaBore, Pahre and I created an online course with on-site video lectures on the politics of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. This required that we write up the lectures, create a shooting schedule, and get out to Yellowstone to film it. If we messed up, that was it - there was no way we could easily go back to Yellowstone to film pickups and correct our mistakes. If we had weather that was bad, but still within the range of normal, our project was done. It was very risky, but the reward was high enough to keep us going.
Needless to say, planning for this ten-day shoot took up much of my time during spring and summer 2015. I lost a lot of sleep making sure everything was completely in order, and when I did get to sleep, I dreamed about great weather and had nightmares about September blizzards. But everything came together, and in mid-September, we drove out to Yellowstone to film over a hundred lectures in ten days.