Jump to Footer

SUNY Plattsburgh Introduces New Expeditionary Studies Graduate Program

SUNY Plattsburgh is bringing expeditionary studies to the graduate level in spring 2014.

The undergraduate program, which teaches advanced skills in paddling, climbing and skiing, combining them with lessons on history, leadership, land management, environmental science, ethics and education, was originally developed to give outdoor professionals needed advanced technical training, readying them for licensure in a variety of fields.

Now the college will provide even greater depth to post-baccalaureate students who want to further advance their outdoor careers.  The degree will take them a step above the technical training in the undergraduate courses, according to Department Chair Larry Soroka.

Broader, Deeper Perspectives of Industry

“If you are a working guide, after this program, you might be the middle manager of a guide company, or you might become the leader guide trainer,” Soroka said, “Beyond that, graduates will have broader and deeper perspectives of the complexities of the outdoor industry.”

Marguerite Adelman, director of graduate admissions, said the degree is great for students who do not live in the area.

“Because it is a low-residency program, there are only a few classes that need to be at completed at SUNY Plattsburgh. Everything else can be done wherever students are in the world,” she said.

In fact, the graduate student controls the location and focus of the thesis component, which requires the student to design and execute three different expeditions.

Community Service, Educational, Professional Components

The thesis includes community service, educational and professional components designed to challenge students to learn how to be flexible in different situations.

For instance, students may have to figure out how to use paddling to give back to the community or how teach an inexperienced group how to ski in backcountry settings, Soroka said.

Afterward, students have to write a research paper and give a presentation to complete the requirement.

The graduate students will also be able to lead undergraduate students on Plattsburgh class expeditions.

Collaboration with Faculty

“The sessions will allow collaboration with an expeditionary studies faculty member, much like a graduate teaching assistant,” he said. 

Soroka’s favorite part of the program is the challenge that comes with traveling for extended periods of time in the outdoors. The students are in unpredictable situations where they have to use their problem-solving skills.

The outdoor world is filled with complexity, he said.

“You have to be able to write, climb, facilitate, light a fire in the rain, make decisions in stressful and changing situations simultaneously,” he said.

To find out more about the expeditionary studies program, email Soroka at [email protected].

Back to top