Field Stations
Current & Upcoming

2022 Northern Summer
Southwestern US

Land Acknowledgment

The Wright-Ingraham Institute has its roots in the state of Colorado. Although we are not currently based in one specific place, we will host the 2022 Field Stations program in and around Durango, Colorado, the ancestral homes and territories of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ (Ute Nation), Apache, the Pueblos, Hopi, Zuni, and the Diné (Navajo) Nation. We find it important to acknowledge these original People’s traditional and ancestral homelands. The WII recognizes the need for continuous Indigenous stewardship of these lands and the importance of honoring multiple perspectives on landscape, culture and science. We also recognize the many Indigenous contributions to architecture, art, science, engineering, mathematics and land stewardship in the Southwest region of the San Juan Mountains.

In recognition of the responsibility that comes with a land acknowledgment, we look forward to ongoing and collaborative dialogue about the impacts of settler colonialism on the Indigenous Nations of the Southwest during fieldwork in 2022.

Regional Background

The 2022 Field Stations program will take place in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado in the Southwest Region of the United States. The Southwest is a complex interface of extreme geographical conditions, from high peaks and arid canyons to the basins and mesas that comprise the Colorado Plateau. The heart of this region gives rise to two major river systems: The Colorado flows west out of the Rocky Mountains and ultimately joins with the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of California. The Rio Grande flows south from its headwaters in the San Juan range of the Rockies on its way to the Atlantic Ocean at the Gulf of Mexico. Together, they support vast ecosystems, irrigate extensive agricultural lands and supply water to millions of people.

Across these two river systems, a complex history of Indigenous land stewardship and settler colonialism has unfolded. For over 12,000 years the region has served as the traditional territories and ancestral homelands of Indigenous Peoples, including the Diné (Navajo Nation), Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ (Ute Nation), Apache, Southern Pueblo, Laguna and Zuni Peoples. Today it is home to the largest concentration of Indigenous Nations within the US. To view the homelands of Indigenous Peoples in this region, visit the Native Lands Map here

Spanish settlers first traveled to the region in the 1500s, followed by the French and later U.S.-American settlers who arrived in large numbers to the Southern Rocky Mountains in the 1860s, attracted by mining and agricultural prospects. In the past fifty years the urban population of the Southwest has exploded, as diverse groups of people have moved into the region looking for opportunity.

Between 1901 and 2016, the average temperature in the Southwest region has increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The San Juan Mountain region in Colorado has warmed by 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, the fastest rate of climate change in the United States outside of Alaska. Effects of climate change in this region are now observed in the form of larger and more severe wildfire, prolonged drought, decreased snowpack, food and economic insecurity and increased risks to human health.1


From the Rio Grande to the San Juan Basin

Our studies will begin in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city. Albuquerque sits along the Rio Grande River and faces many of the challenges of the urban southwest, including the interactions of expanding populations and limited water resources.

From Albuquerque we will travel north over the Continental Divide and into the San Juan Basin, a watershed that feeds the Colorado River. Our studies will focus on the divergent land use priorities and conflicts along the Animas River, a major tributary of the San Juan River that originates in the peaks around Silverton, Colorado. From Silverton the Animas flows south out of the mountains, through Durango, Colorado and on to agricultural lands around Farmington, New Mexico, where it joins the San Juan. The Farmington area has been called Tótah by Diné Peoples, meaning “between the waters” in recognition of its role as a life sustaining place.1

Within the San Juan watershed evidence of mineral and resource extraction industries is always close by. Commercial mining beginning in the 19th century transformed the Southwest into an important hub for extraction and energy projects. These activities both facilitated the forced removal and dispossession of Indigenous peoples and caused ongoing environmental degradation.2 Uranium mining, coal-fired power plants and oil and natural gas have produced boom economies, but they also inflict disproportionate community health impacts and economic instability. The region now faces a reckoning with energy transition as coal-fired power plants are slated for closure and oil and gas industries have moved to other fields.3


This course uses observation, experimentation, data collection, drawing, photography, visualization, historical records, and exchanges with local communities to address the transformation of landscapes at local, regional and global scales.

Foundational Topics


  • Deep time
  • Earth and atmosphere building
  • Geology of the San Juan Mountains

Ecology & Natural Science

  • Hydrology
  • Biology
  • Soil Science
  • Forest Health

Climate Change

  • Environmental transformation & resilience
  • Food systems
  • Water supply
  • Extraction and energy

Systems Thinking

  • Interconnectedness
  • Problem solving through complexity
  • Environmental education

Landscape Dynamics

  • Language of landscape
  • Land-use history and planning
  • Architecture and climate

Socio-Cultural Dynamics

  • Politics, economics and political ecology
  • Race, gender and class dynamics
  • Indigenous knowledge systems
  • Settler colonialism

Fieldwork & On-Site Exploration

  • Surveying and data collection
  • Drawing and visualization techniques
  • Identification of core issues & stakeholders

Synthesis & Communication

  • Narrative and visualization for different audiences
  • Systems understanding, interpretation and articulation
  • Strategies for implementation

Program Objectives

Participants and faculty are invited to participate in daily seminars and develop their own research agenda within the framework set by the program team. Participants will synthesize their observations and experience through the use of media and writing. Final presentations and projects can take different forms.

Projects may entail recording and monitoring local conditions, analyzing ecosystemic changes, exploring the restoration of physical and environmental spaces associated with the workshop and establishing partnerships with local actors. Workshop outcomes will be made available to a broader audience on this website.

Syllabus & Schedule

Costs & Logistics

Pricing, Accommodations and Transportation Overview

Scholarships that cover tuition, accommodations, local transportation and group meals will be provided for all participants for the duration of the Field Stations workshop. Participants should be prepared to cover the cost of their domestic air travel and any incidentals.

Application Fees, Scholarships & Stipends

Participation in the Field Stations workshop requires a $300 non-refundable deposit to secure your place. Participants unable to afford the application fee or travel expenses may apply for a stipend. If this applies to you, please contact us directly at to discuss scholarship options.

What to Bring & How to Pack

Participants should bring clothing and gear for a range of desert and mountain climates with hot days and cool nights. Closer to the date of the trip, we will send a packing list with suggested supplies and additional accommodations details.

Our Team

2022 WII Field Stations

Core Team Members

MEGAN AHEARN serves as the Program Manager for the Wright-Ingraham Institute and works with the administration of the Field Stations program. She has broad experience, both domestically and internationally, with non-profit organizations that focus on environmental sustainability and social justice. Formerly, she served as the program manager for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, dubbed “socially-responsible design’s highest award.” She has a master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of British Columbia, and a background in Anthropology. Megan attended the exploratory Field Stations faculty workshop in Colombia in 2018.
KEVIN BONE was a professor of architecture at the Cooper Union from 1985 through 2018, teaching design, building technology and sustainability. During his time at Cooper he worked to integrate issues of environment into the curriculum and was the founding director of the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design. Bone has published on architecture, infrastructure, energy and landscape. Those publications include Lessons From Modernism, Environmental Design Considerations in Architecture, 1925-1970; The New York Waterfront, Evolution of the Port and Harbor; and Water-Works, the Architecture and Engineering of the New York City Water Supply. Bone is also a principal at Bone/Levine Architects. The practice works in architectural design, technical consulting and historic preservation. Bone is now working with the Wright-Ingraham Institute to develop small scale, experimental, educational initiatives.
MARCIE DEMMY BIDWELL serves as Executive Director and landscape ecologist for Mountain Studies Institute. She has a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from University of Washington with a specialty in learning landscapes and community restoration. Marcie considers herself a hybrid designer-scientist working to infuse community collaborations with design thinking. She has eighteen years of leadership experience in natural resource management, climate adaptation, environmental science, and program development to achieve watershed health and environmental justice. Throughout her diverse professional experience, Marcie has worked with scientists and citizens to manage, design, and facilitate community-based projects for the restoration and management of public and private lands. Marcie is adept at integrating scientific findings into educational programs, natural resource management and decision making.
KIRK GORDON is a landscape architect and graphic designer with a background in plant biology and zoology. His work focuses on the relationships between ecological wisdom and new technologies in imagining resilient futures. Kirk received his Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Virginia and currently works as a landscape designer at SCAPE Landscape Architecture in New York City. Kirk is an alumnus of the 2019 Field Stations workshop in Colombia.
ARIELLE MILKMAN is a qualitative social science researcher and writer. She is a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her research interests include migration, work and the social dimensions of environmental remediation. Arielle is trained in audiovisual and community-based research methods and has taught science writing to students at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is an alumna of the 2019 Field Stations workshop in Colombia.
EMMA PODIETZ recently graduated with a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Maryland. Her research and professional interests include the integration of ecological science and landscape architecture. Her masters thesis focused on the application of ecological succession theory to the long-term design and management of urban parks and forests. Before earning her MLA, she studied art, environmental studies, Latin American studies, and Geographic Information Systems and worked in the bicycle industry for several years.
LILY RAPHAEL is a community planner currently living in Vancouver, on the unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) peoples. She has worked on a variety of sustainable development initiatives within rural, Indigenous and urban communities in Ecuador, the U.S. and British Columbia. Her work is rooted in community engagement and action research. Lily’s research interests include biocultural conservation, community-driven land stewardship, collective memory and placemaking, and systems transformation at the individual, organizational and community level. Currently, she works in Simon Fraser University’s Community Economic Development program, focusing on economic reconciliation and resilience planning. Lily holds a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from University of British Columbia and is an alumna of the 2019 Field Stations workshop in Colombia.