JRN 473, Section 001 Wilderness Experience and Environmental Writing — FALL 2010

Course Introduction:

This is an experiential course in which students will spend a weekend immersed in nature camping in the northern Michigan wilderness. Students will be assigned readings about the wilderness, be expected to create a nature journal containing personal reflections and observations, and write a nature essay based on their camping experience.


Jim Detjen, Director, Knight Center for Environmental Journalism
Office: 382 Communication Arts Building  Phone: 517-353-9479
E-mail: Detjen@msu.edu Office hours: 3 to 5 p.m. Thursdays or by appointment.


40% of grade Written Journal
40% of grade Nature Essay
20% of grade Participation and Attendance


Nature Journal of personal experiences during camping weekend, observations, and reflections. Sketches, artwork, poetry, photography, or other forms of creative expression are encouraged.

Nature Essay of 500 to 700 words based on observations and reflections from camping weekend. Students will exchange essays for critical feedback two weeks prior to final due date.

Participation and Attendance:

Class participation and attendance will count for the final 20 percent of the student’s grade. We will discuss in class and on the weekend of Sept. 8-10 some of the recommended readings about the wilderness. Photos, artwork, essays and other creative work by the students will be posted on a website that is linked to the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

PLEASE NOTE: It is our expectation that you will not use your cell phone the entire weekend.  Bring cell phones for emergency use only.

Equipment you will need:

Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad


Rain Gear


Personal Hygiene Items

Cooking and Eating Utensils

Appropriate Clothing

**Please be advised that camping at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area will be primitive. There will be no electrical hookups or showers and we will bring our own water with us.  Nordhouse Dunes  is a 3,450-acre wilderness area containing sand dunes, woody vegetation such as juniper, jack pine and hemlock. It is the only designated wilderness area in Michigan’s lower peninsula. White-tailed deer, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, porcupines, skunks and squirrels inhabit the area. Many species of waterfowl and songbirds are also present.

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