Natural History and Ecology is an approach to learning how nature works, how organisms and their biotic and abiotic environments interrelate. Grounded in evolutionary principles, the field involves studying individuals and populations and how they are assembled into communities and ecosystems. Some students within this emphasis area will become naturalists who observe and interpret particular organisms and landscapes. Others may become field ecologists who build upon natural history by using the scientific method for examining questions generated by ecological theory. Ecological understanding informs and guides applied fields such as agroecology and conservation biology. Orientation Each fall and spring, new Prescott College students find themselves in "the classroom," the breathtaking, sometimes raw, always diverse terrains and environments of the Southwest. New Prescott students are introduced to the natural environment of the Southwest, learn about themselves and each other, and experience the educational philosophies of Prescott College during Orientation, thus beginning the journey of developing relationships with their new home, community, and academic career. For most students, Orientation will mean a three-week Desert, Mountain and Canyon Expedition (aka Wilderness Orientation). Students, as a small community of engaged learners, will be backpacking throughout ecologically diverse locations in Arizona. Studying - Connecting - Growing. Other students will participate in a Base Camp Orientation, or Community-Based Orientation. Follow this link for detailed information on these Orientation options: Orientation Details First Year Experience In their first semester, freshmen will enroll in courses addressing the concerns and challenges of being a college student. First Year Students will choose from an array of immersive semester courses - like Water in the West, Art and Ecology, Foundations of Leadership, and Introduction to Psychology and Yoga - which continue to build community, forge relationships with faculty advisors, and develop academic inquiry. In their first semester at Prescott College, transfer students participate in Crises of the 21st Century: Research Methods & Theories. Students from environmental and social disciplines, the arts, and humanities will be introduced to theoretical and research approaches that foster ways of integrating their questions through class discussions and personal research. Students enrolled in this course will be given individual support in creating a degree plan organizing courses they are transferring with into a pathway for graduation in their chosen fields. Degree Plan During the first semester of their junior year, students create a degree plan, with the assistance of their faculty adviser, which sketches the academic map of their journey. It includes an overview of courses and credits earned; brief descriptions of competence, breadth, and liberal arts areas; lists of courses completed and those to be completed; a tentative Senior Project plan and description; and additional honors or experience that contribute to competence or breadth. The Degree Plan is a living document that continues to evolve throughout the student's final three terms. Senior Project Prescott College requires every student, not just designated "honors" students, to design and carry out an ambitious Senior Project. This Project functions as both a demonstration of competence and a culmination of the undergraduate experience. It may take the form of an ambitious research project, a collection of original creative writing, a curriculum plan and implementation, a studio art exhibition, a performance, a case or field study, or a challenging internship. Another way of thinking about the Senior Project is as a bridge between a student's undergraduate career and work after graduation. The Senior Project stands as a calling card that proclaims to graduate schools, prospective employers, and the world, "Look, this is what I'm capable of doing."