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Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
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The Wilderness Institute

The Wilderness Institute provides students, agencies, and the public with information, education, and an understanding of the issues and social and ecological values of wilderness. Housed within the University of Montana in the College of Forestry and Conservation, the Wilderness Institute is appropriately located in the heart of some of the wildest country in the lower forty-eight states. For more information read the Wilderness Institute's Mission.

The Wilderness & Civilization Program The Wilderness and Civilization Program logo

Hiking in the plains "The Wilderness and Civilization program challenges you, every assumption you've ever made, and possibly even changes the way you view the world. It's absolutely the most rewarding college experience I've had."

- Wilderness & Civilization student

Wilderness and Civilization is a classroom- and field-based academic program at The University of Montana. Each year, a small group of students from around the country are immersed for two semesters in the study of wildlands and land ethics. Coursework is interdisciplinary and the program combines classroom and field learning, small class size, dedicated faculty, and internship experience. This combination allows students to make philosophical and personal connections across disciplines and experiences. The program is designed for undergraduates interested in exploring wilderness, environmental issues, and the human-nature relationship. Wilderness and Civilization students receive an undergraduate minor in Wilderness Studies that will compliment any major. Scholarships and applications are available on the website.
Rafting "This is what I've always wanted college to be like."
- Wilderness & Civilization student

"...I have rediscovered interest and passion for my ability to affect change in the world."

- Wilderness & Civilization student

Wilderness Issues Lecture Series

In the Spring of 2004 we celebrated the 25th annual Wilderness Issues Lecture Series.

Click here for audio Selected lectures from past series are now available online. Click here to listen.

The Wilderness Issues Lecture Series, offered each spring, has encouraged dialogue and served as a forum for the exploration of current wilderness issues since 1980. The Series has brought in scholars and thinkers from all over the country providing a unique opportunity for western Montanans to learn from, interact with, and build relationships with wilderness leaders. The format of the Lecture Series includes both lectures and panel discussions designed to present a range of viewpoints on a particular theme. These presentations provide insights on current issues that encourage constructive debate, public participation, and sound decisions.

The Lecture Series is open to the public and offered for college credit.

Other Wilderness Institute Courses

Other Wilderness Institute Projects

  • The Matthew Hansen Endowment provides funding for projects focused on Montana that encourage mindful stewardship of the land, both wild and cultivated, and contribute to the preservation of Montana's natural and cultural heritage.
  • The Missoula Area Wilderness Forum is a network of wilderness professionals devoted to information sharing and coordination of Missoula wilderness-orientated activities.
  • The Citizen Science Program builds on a growing movement that engages citizen volunteers in monitoring the ecological and social aspects of our wildlands. Citizen volunteers help monitor conditions and trends, detect early indicators of change, and provide information to managers. Citizen science in wilderness provides an opportunity to broaden civic engagement in wilderness stewardship and develop the public’s capacity to understand and respond to ecological changes.

International Cooperation

The Wilderness Institute is involved with the College of Forestry and Conservation in two international initiatives. The Tree House Program is a research initiative including the University of Montana, the South African University of KwaZulu-Natal, and conservation agencies from the US and South Africa. The purpose of the Program is to develop and display an adaptive protected area stewardship capability to deal with the growing multitude of social issues associated with them through cross cultural research, application and demonstration.

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