Make this your lecture hall.

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Explore wild Alaska, earn credit toward your degree, and have the adventure you’re itching for. 2-, 3-, and 6-week long sessions are a great fit for undergraduates interested in exploring topics from biology to art to politics. Dig into our 2020 courses below, and check out @tatooshschool for photos and videos from the field.

3 weeks: May 19 – June 9, 2020

Community Ecology


6 weeks: June 15 – July 27, 2020

Case Studies for a Changing World


2 weeks:  August 5 – 19, 2020

Salmon Class


On a 3- or 6-week program, you’ll enroll in two or three courses concurrently. If you’re on the 2-week, you’ll enroll in one course that’s all about Alaskan salmon. All undergraduate and first-year graduate students are encouraged to apply, no prerequisites required. Learn more about earning academic credit.

(are you scouting for the 2021 season? Us too! We’ll offer at least the same courses as in 2020, at around the same dates. Apply for next year and you’ll be in good company. If you have questions, email erin@tatooshschool.org or give us a call at 907-406-9075)


3 weeks: May 19 – June 9, 2020

Community Ecology

Session outline

This 3-week intensive focuses on the ecological and human communities that inhabit the core of the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion. We will explore from the Outer Coast to the Inside Passage, and study interactions at varying scales and across biological, social, biophysical, and cultural boundaries.

The CE session begins with a 4-7 day backcountry expedition in the Prince of Wales Island archipelago. The remainder of the session is spent in the forests and rivers of Prince of Wales, at base camp in Coffman Cove, and with wrap-up in Wrangell. Two academic courses are taken concurrently.

Course descriptions

Community Ecology (4 semester or 6 quarter units, 410/510) examines the physical, biological, economic and political frameworks essential to informed stewardship of salmon-producing watersheds, healthy forests and communities in the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion. Students practice stream, upland forest and community survey and monitoring techniques that contribute to long-term collaborative stewardship work. A community ecology lens adds consideration of organizations and networks on the landscape and in human communities, enhancing students’ knowledge of resiliency and sustainability in the ecoregion.

Applied Methods in Field Research and Education (1 semester or 2 quarter units, 410/510) explores methods for the development and implementation of active teaching and research programs that integrate people, leadership, academics, community and ecology. The course describes and uses non-formal teaching and learning techniques, place-based education, and community interaction in higher education.


6 weeks: June 15 – July 27, 2020

Case Studies for a Changing World

Session Outline

This 6-week summer session tackles signs, symptoms, and solutions in our changing world. Expedition-based and experience-centered, this session makes wild lands and the working landscape your lecture hall. Base camp is the jumping-off point for sea kayak expeditions, community engagement, and research.

Coursework begins with an introduction to the geomorphology, paleoarchaeology, and ecology of southern Southeast Alaska. Next, we’ll dig into topics in rapid ecological and social change, from shifting salmon species composition in local streams to the changing socioeconomics of rural America. We’ll think about different time scales, and biophysical, social, and political tools for responding to change. We’ll talk with experts, and see first-hand examples of resilience.

Course Descriptions

Introduction to southern southeast Alaska (1 semester or 2 quarter units, 410/510) develops a foundational understanding of the geomorphology, paleoarchaeology, and ecology of southern southeast Alaska, from the outer coast of Prince of Wales Island to the Stikine River.  The course also covers essential cultural and social histories of the region.

Case studies for a changing world: land, animals, fishes (4 semester or 6 quarter units, 410/510) applies theories of community ecology and conservation biology in the Pacific Coastal Ecoregion. Topics include community dynamics in nearshore aquatic habitats, island biogeography, stream ecology and restoration, wildlife ecology and management, forest succession, and water quality. Some examples of case studies are at-risk Alexander Archipelago wolves; karst-forest-fish systems; and salmon habitat restoration.

Case studies for a changing world: people (4 semester or 6 quarter units, 410/510) begins with an overview of contemporary natural-resource based economies and conservation in southern southeast Alaska. Topics include economies of place, collaborative land management, public lands policy, and culture, sustainability and resiliency in rural communities. Some examples of case studies are landscape-scale planning; Sitka black-tail deer and the subsistence economy; conflicting values on transboundary river systems; and Alaska Native leadership in resource management.


2 week: August 5 – 19, 2020

Salmon Class

Session Outline

This two-week intensive is all about salmon. The lifeblood of Alaska, the five species of Pacific salmon have adapted to their changing coastal habitat for thousands of years. Now, from the ocean to their headwaters habitat, their abundance is at risk. We’ll explore why, and what to do next.

Salmon class begins with a 4-5 day sea kayaking expedition in the Prince of Wales Island archipelago. We’ll read up on the geomorphology, biology, and ecology of Pacific salmon. Next, we’ll sit down (or walk around on-site) for discussions with commercial fisherman, hatchery managers, fishing guides, biologists, and public lands managers to better understand what its like to work on the front lines of the last abundant wild salmon fisheries in the world.

Course Description

Alaska Salmon Studies (4 semester or 6 quarter units, 410/510) begins with an introduction to the life histories and biology of Pacific salmon in evolutionary and ecological contexts. The course examines the theory and practice of conservation biology with southeast Alaskan salmon as a case study, and students practice field research methods in a collaborative setting. Next, the course addresses human dimensions of the salmon system, characterizing community-scale economies and reviewing policies designed to support the well-being of Alaskan fishing towns and villages. The course also introduces approaches to salmon aquaculture world-wide and discusses their implications for wild Alaskan salmon in the ocean and at market.


While on course, you’re “on” seven days a week, exploring and learning with your classmates and instructors. We have class in the morning (after coffee!), at lunch on a paddle day, or when a neighbor drops by to chat about the fishing, and readiness is the name of the game. We’ll give readings and assignments frequently, and classes are active and interactive. Along with academic coursework and research projects, you’ll gain foundational skills in wilderness sea kayaking and camping. These skills begin with the basics: cooking, stove use, navigation with maps, charts, and a compass, and Leave No Trace ethics. Kayaking curriculum includes paddle strokes, tides and ocean currents, weather, marine hazards and wet exits. We’ll also cover expedition behavior, leadership and risk management. As your course progresses, you will join us as we identify and manage the hazards of wind and waves, rocky shorelines, currents, open crossings, and cold water. We may wait out a storm for a few days, packing in classes under the tarp and learning the music of the rain. By living on the landscape that we study, we get to know its details, challenges, and beauties; this is wild learning.

Scroll our Instagram to see pictures and videos from the field.

Learn more about course costs and our Bridger Scholarship Fund.

Questions? Ask an alum – alumni at tatooshschool.org

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