WHERE HAVE ALL THE CLASSROOMS GONE? REJECTING TRADITIONAL SEAT TIME FOR FIELD AND PROJECT WORK AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA WESTERN
One example of the many classes that have little to no seat time is Environmental Field Studies. Since 2006, students have been conducting very detailed assessments of stream morphology, in-stream macroinvertebrates, riparian vegetation and stream habitat on the upper Big Hole River and its tributaries in southwest Montana. The goal of the project is to assess riparian restoration efforts conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks in order to improve habitat for fluvial Arctic grayling. The assessment data and reports, which are typically upwards of 350 pages in length, are used by the agencies to adjust their restoration efforts and better utilize their limited resources. This project saves the agencies money, serves as research for the professor and results in unparalleled portfolio pieces for the students. At a time when students need more than a transcript listing of courses to land a job or get into graduate school, abandoning the traditional classroom makes a measureable difference.