American Southwest | Bears Ears: Indigenous Perspectives on Human and Non-Human Relatives

This 35-day Wintersession Travel Course is based in and near the Bears Ears National Monument. The first-ever Indigenous-led National Monument has roots in the five-tribal coalition which asserted their tribal sovereignty and established a living cultural landscape that has been part of several tribes and their culture, language, history, and identity. The Bears Ears has temporal elements of the contemporary present, past, and future for tribal nations and Indigenous communities. It is a landmark win in the struggle to protect ancestral sacred lands and push back against climate change and progressive conservation of public lands stewardship.

At-A-Glance

What
Wintersession Travel Course
Where
  • San Juan County, Utah
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
When
Winter 2024

Estimated dates—final dates to be announced.

Course Dates: Jan 4, 2024 — Feb 7, 2024

Who
Open to RISD students, Brown University students

Minimum 2.5 GPA required. First year students are not eligible for this course.

Topics
  • Art
  • Design
  • Craft
  • Storytelling
  • Land Management
  • Environmental Protection
Faculty
Academic Credits
3
Department
  • Liberal Arts
Cost
$4910

Estimated cost—final cost to be announced.

Includes accommodation, all meals, field trips, local transportation, museum and park entrances, health and travel insurance. Airfare is not included.

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WS24 American Southwest Bears Ears Indigenous Perspectives on Human and Non Human Relatives
2024
WS24 American Southwest Bears Ears Indigenous Perspectives on Human and Non Human Relatives Baca
2024
WS24 American Southwest Bears Ears Indigenous Perspectives on Human and Non Human Relatives
2024

About this course

Course Description

A five-week examination of creation of the Bears Ears National Monument on the ground in San Juan County, Utah will allow students to experience the land first-hand with the instruction of Dr. Angelo Baca (Diné/Hopi). Baca’s community-based participatory research with the Indigenous-led, non-profit Utah Diné Bikéyah was instrumental in developing the successful proposal for a National Monument. His documentary film Shash Jaa’: Bears Ears follows this process from the perspectives of the five tribes who live in this territory and cooperated to produce the proposal. RISD students will learn about the intersections of Indigenous traditional knowledge and western knowledge literally on the ground, with a focus on land management practices, impacts on tribal sovereignty, and shifting state and federal policy by visiting important cultural and natural sites, archaeological and ethnographic museums, indigenous food gatherings, and various tribal leaders and officers who contributed to the Bears Ears effort. We will also explore the many non-profit and conservation organizations who are working together with Native American tribal nations to preserve and protect this sacred landscape. Each week will focus on one of the five tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Diné, Ute Mountain Ute, Ute Indian Tribe, Hopi, and Zuni) that successfully persuaded the Obama administration to designate 1.35 million acres as a national monument in 2016. This protection was rescinded by the Trump administration, and subsequently reinstated by the Biden administration in October of 2021. Students will produce a weekly journal of writing and sketches, and a final group project generated through text and visual imagery as a reciprocal contribution to a Bears Ears National Monument group of their choice, for the mutual exchange of knowledge and a bridge-building to a positive relationship of sharing knowledge, skills, and stories.

Apply to a Wintersession Travel Course

The application for Wintersession Travel Courses 2024 will open on September 4, 2023 at 7:00 PM and will close on October 1, 2023 at 11:59 PM.

View details

Apply to a Wintersession Travel Course

The application for Wintersession Travel Courses 2024 will open on September 4, 2023 at 7:00 PM and will close on October 1, 2023 at 11:59 PM.

View details

More Info

Application + Registration

The entire application process will be completed using an online application portal. You will be able to upload, request and submit all required documents there. Apply to a Wintersession Travel Course

RISD Students

Unless otherwise noted on the course page, all Wintersession Travel Courses are open to students in any year of study. Please check the course pages on this website carefully to learn about any restrictions specific to your chosen travel course.

GPA Requirement: Exception to Academic Policy

If your current cumulative GPA is 2.5 or above, you are eligible for registration. RISD students seeking an exception to the GPA requirement academic policy should follow the instructions set by the Registrars’ Office.

Brown University Students

If you are a Brown University student with a GPA of 2.5 and up, you are eligible to apply. Admission for Wintersession Travel Courses is highly selective and preference will be given to RISD students. Please read carefully through the application materials and steps above to make sure you are preparing your application to the best of your ability.

As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession Travel Courses until the travel is confirmed, which happens no later than one week after the final Wintersession Travel Course payment period.

In cases where Wintersession Travel Courses do not reach minimum capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession Travel Course registration period. In case of cancellation, all payments will be refunded in full. Any cost incurred for travel reservations in such situations is the participant’s sole responsibility.

It is not possible for a student to drop a Wintersession Travel Course via the standard Add/Drop process after it has commenced. In the case of unforeseen and extenuating circumstances (and only after students have spoken with the faculty lead and RISD Global for approval to withdraw from the program), students should be aware that no refund will be issued.

RISD Wintersession Travel Courses follow the RISD withdrawal policy for off-campus global learning programs

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1:1 Advising Session

Have questions? The RISD Global team is available to meet for a 1:1 advising session. We can give you more information about your study options, help you figure out which program makes sense for you, and assist you with the application process.

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Events

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