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About the Field of Expeditionary Studies (EXP)

Think, Act, Experience!

“You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.” — Albert Camus

Expeditionary studies offers a course of college-level study that integrates a way of thinking and acting in dynamic outdoor settings. By developing advanced skills, experiencing the demands of outdoor leadership, and understanding the environmental and historical contexts of adventure sports, you will come to understand what we mean when we say expeditionary thinking is “thinking in action.”

Become Prepared

Everything we do in our courses, expeditions, and advising prepares you for the standards of professional work in adventure settings, no matter your specific goals. As early as your first year you’ll start planning your first EXP class expedition. Maybe it will be kayaking in Maine, or skiing in Quebec’s Chic-Choc mountains. The goal, as always, is to get you "thinking in action.” When you’re actually out there, you’ll be analyzing what’s in front of you. Are clouds moving in? Is the temperature rising? Why are your teammates slowing down? Where can we ascend the slopes we want to ski? How do we know they’re skiable? When do we have to start paddling to avoid “wind over wave” when we round a headland?

The ability to answer these and other questions requires planning, training, skills and thinking. That’s what we offer in the expeditionary studies curriculum.

If this sounds like a course of study you’d like, check out the expeditionary studies curriculum.

"Being Expeditionary"

“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” — Unattributed (quoted in Exploring New Frontiers by Dave Edwards)

If there is one word that captures the challenges of “Being Expeditionary” it's planning. In EXP you’ll experience planning in different ways throughout our curriculum, until finally you conduct expert planning for your own, independent Senior Expedition. If “thinking in action” defines expeditionary adventures, “thinking before action defines expeditionary planning. Expeditionary studies is where the two come together.

Becoming a Competent Expedition Leader

“Exploration was the physical expression of an intellectual passion.” — Apsely Chery-Garrard in The Worst Journey in The World

The two things required to travel competently in the outdoors are skills and experience. That’s why the EXP curriculum is designed to give you a high level of both. By the time you take the highest level climbing, skiing, or paddling classes you will have the skills of an competent expedition leader. Though it takes years to build a substantive log book of experiences, you’ll have a substantial résumé by the time you finish the EXP degree.

Most upper-level EXP courses include extended trips. For example, if you take the upper-level rock classes, you will climb in the Adirondacks (of course!) and in other exciting places, such as Joshua Tree, California, Red Rocks, Nevada, and Granite Mountain, Arizona. If you take the junior- and senior-level paddling trips, in addition to practice time on Lake Champlain, you will paddle in places as far afield as the New England coast, Baja, Mexico, Puget Sound, and the Canadian Maritimes. Skiers ski locally, but also in Canada, the Rockies, the Sierra, or the North Cascades. One goal of our classes is to get you ready for your own trips.

Mandatory Requirement: your commitment. Beyond class trips, you’ve got to spend time outdoors, pushing your limits, expanding your horizons, and increasing your experiences. When you have an open weekend, you should be perfecting your outdoor living skills. When you have an afternoon, you might be working with map and compass to improve your navigation skills. At night, after homework, you might take a stove apart or read books like Three Cups of Tea or Climbing in North America, to mention but two titles of thousands.

If you are beginning to see yourself and your goals in our program, we invite you to take the next step by visiting the campus for a tour and Admissions discussion. You or our admissions office can also arrange a meeting with the chair of expeditionary studies. If you’re already a step beyond, we invite you to apply for admission now.

Contact Information

We invite you to learn more about expeditionary studies at SUNY Plattsburgh. Please feel free to contact the chair.

Jerry Isaak, Chair
Office: 102 Broad Street
Phone: (518) 564-5292
Email: [email protected]