Minor Requirements | St. Lawrence University Outdoor Studies

Minor Requirements

The goals of the Outdoor Studies minor are:

  • To foster a life-long appreciation and respect for the natural world that encourages decision-making rooted in the interconnectedness of the outdoors and the human experience.
  • To prepare, through experience and skills acquisition, those students interested in pursuing careers in outdoor education and leadership.

Minor Requirements

To complete a minor in outdoor studies, students may choose between two tracks, the on-campus track or the Adirondack Semester intensive off-campus track. Both tracks require the acquisition of certain elementary outdoor skills.


Students must take:

  1. ODST 111 or ODST 3003.
  2. One course from the science with field lab category
  3. Two courses from the Philosophy/English /Environmental Studies/Art category, preferably from different disciplines
  4. One additional 0.5-1.0 credit course from the Outdoor Education category
  5. One additional 1.0 credit course from the Outdoor Education or Philosophy/English /Environmental Studies/Art or Science with field lab categories or a relevant FYP or FYS course.

*Courses in these required categories include but are not limited to the list below; refer questions to the director.

 Outdoor Education Category

111.    Principles of Outdoor Leadership.
101.    Modern Outdoor Recreation Ethics (“MORE”). (0.5 units)
115.    Introduction to Snow Science and Avalanches.
3003.  Advanced Topics: Outdoor Leadership.

Science With Field Lab Category

121.    The Natural World.
209.    Vertebrate Natural History.
215.    Invertebrate Biology.
218.    Orinithology
221.    General Ecology*.
227.    Mammalogy.
325.    Mycology.
330.    Ecology of Lakes and Rivers.
335.    Winter Ecology.
360.    Marine Ecology.
380.    Tropical Ecology*.
440.    Conservation Biology.
4001.  Medicinal Plant Ecology.

103.    The Dynamic Earth.
211.    Geomorphology.
216.    Sedimentology.
320.    Regional Field Studies.
350.    Structural Geology.

102.    Introduction to Astronomy.

English /Philosophy/Environmental Studies/Arts Category

231.    Adirondack Literature
243.    Creative Non-Fiction Writing.+
308.    Advanced Creative Non-Fiction Writing.+
328.    English Romanticism.
334.    Reading the Land: Pastoral and Georgic Literature*      
346.    American Literature and the Environment*.
352.    Contemporary Literature and the Environment*.

310.    Philosophy and the Environment.

Environmental Studies
249.    Outdoor Recreation and Public Land.
263.    Global Change and Sustainability.
326.    Once and Future Forests.
343.    Ecology and Political Thought.
371.    Landscape Ecology

256.    Art and Nature.

Religious Studies
103.    Religion and Ecology.

*Dual-listed with Environmental Studies.
+Only sections including experiences in nature satisfy this requirement.


  1. Four and a half units taken during the Adirondack Semester.
  2. One 1-credit elective from the Outdoor Education (other than ODST 111), Field Science or Philosophy/Literature/Environmental Studies/Arts categories  or a relevant FYP or FYS

 Outdoor Studies Courses

111.     Principles of Outdoor Leadership
An introduction to outdoor studies that includes many elements of the minor. The course integrates lecture and field experiences that explore the basic theories, concepts and skills in the field of outdoor leadership and education. It also examines personal outdoor recreational ethics as well as knowledge about environmentally sensitive recreation in the outdoors.

101.    Modern Outdoor Recreation Ethics. (.5 units)
By means of study, experience and reflection, this half-unit lecture and required lab course attempts to foster a personal environmental ethic as well as knowledge about environmentally sensitive recreation in the outdoors. Course content focuses on historical and present-day philosophies and practices of outdoor pursuits, including backcountry travel, canoeing, climbing, first aid and expedition planning. The course requires five overnight field trips to practice the material covered in the classroom.

115.    Introduction to Snow Science and Avalanches.
This eight-day January course integrates theory with scientific technical skills on a unique field-expedition in a mountain range in North America. Students learn the foundation principles of snow science and avalanche study through readings, classroom learning and field experience, and explore the relationship between human behavior and decision-making, and how it affects snow pack stability. Topics include snow science, mountain weather, geology, avalanche search and rescue, backcountry travel, and the human-nature interaction and relationship in a mountainous winter environment, as well as backcountry wilderness skills necessary to recreate, travel and study safely in a mountainous winter environment.

201.    Natural History and Ecology of the Adirondacks. (Adirondack Semester)
This field-oriented course emphasizes the natural history, ecology, geology, geography and climate of the Adirondacks. Primary emphasis is on the ecology, life history, local adaptations and uses of Adirondack flora and fauna. Basic ecological concepts such as ecosystem function, community diversity, food web structure, seasonal change, competition, and nutrient cycles are studied by means of field trips and field studies. Studies examine the influence of weather, day length, and geology and may include the movement of stars and planets. Students learn how to record observational data and how to conduct an experiment.

202.    Creative Expressions of Nature.  (Adirondack Semester)
This course encourages students to view their interaction with the natural world through a literary and artistic lens. To explore the intersection of self, culture, and environment, students will draw on their experiences living and traveling in the Adirondacks and experiment with different modes of artistic expression, including poetry, prose, and environmental sculpture. Meanwhile, through a variety of readings, students will gain an introduction to the conventions and traditions of nature writing, and they will apply that knowledge to their own creative projects.

203.    Land Use Change in the Adirondacks. (Adirondack Semester)
Using the Adirondacks as a case study, this course examines current activities in land planning and the importance of historical context. Study of Adirondack history begins with 16th-century information from European explorers and Native Americans. Emphasis is then placed on industrial and recreational use in the 19th century. The course highlights formation of the State Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Park, and regulations governing private land use. Study of the present utilizes political theory such as internal colonization and coreperiphery. The course employs local examples through discussion and field trips.

277.    Knowing Nature. (Adirondack Semester)
Students examine and practice a variety of methods and techniques by which humans know nature. In particular, the course engages the western scientific and the shamanic (as practiced by indigenous cultures) paradigms, and asks how our perception of nature affects how we relate to and treat it. The course will explore the concept of nature as knowing and intelligent through the lenses of recent scientific research and traditional knowledge.

3003. Advanced Topics of Outdoor Leadership and Education.
This intensive, field-based course culminates with a two-week expedition in which students apply the leadership and teaching skills learned through lectures and labs during the semester. This is a student-designed and instructor-facilitated experience, in which students develop risk management plans, course itineraries and outdoor education lesson plans specific to a wilderness expedition, and assume direct leadership roles implementing their developed lesson plans. The course is designed for students who will work as outdoor guides and educators in the St. Lawrence University Outdoor Program and other professional organizations.