Program Location and Academics

Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Semester in the American West: Lander, WY and Taos, NM

Program Schedule

Pre-Departure: Program Virtual Orientation/Start of Coursework

This first phase of the program will provide an orientation to Lehigh Launch and introduce students to the themes of the program and their coursework. Orientation will begin approximately one week prior to Lehigh’s first day of classes for students in Bethlehem. Following this remote portion of the program, students will fly to Wyoming for the start of the semester.

Wyoming: Wind River Range Backpacking Expedition

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) will lead students on a three-week field program in the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains. NOLS is internationally known for its wilderness education programs. No camping or backpacking experience is required!

Wyoming: Classroom- and Field-based Learning

Following the NOLS expedition, students will pursue coursework in the classroom, outdoors, and on short field trips in the area of Lander, Wyoming.

New Mexico: Classroom- and Field-based Learning

The second half of the program takes place in Taos, New Mexico. SMU-in-Taos is the home base for Lehigh residential and classroom activities.

Lead Faculty for Fall 2020: Barry Kroll, Professor of English

Barry Kroll teaches courses in American popular literature and film, as well as in writing, rhetoric, and stylistics. His research explores alternatives to traditional forms of arguing, especially when arguments involve intense disputes and serious disagreements. This work is informed by insights from the martial and meditative arts, particularly from Aikido. In his teaching, Kroll emphasizes active learning and integrative thinking.

The lead faculty member for Fall 2021 will be announced in Spring 2021.

Coursework Info

Lehigh Launch is led by Lehigh faculty and staff and is deeply connected to the Lehigh community. Students will earn 16 credit hours through classroom-based and experiential learning, while fulfilling distribution requirements in natural science, social science and the humanities, as well as the first-year seminar requirement.


  • Lehigh Launch: A Sense of Place (4 credit hours)
  • Earth and Environment of the American West (4 credit hours, Natural Science)
  • Literature of the American West (4 credit hours, Humanities)
  • The Taos Experience: Everyday Life and Rituals (4 credit hours, Social Science)

Partner Information: National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

NOLS is the world's leading wilderness school. A nonprofit based in Lander, WY, the school provides students the opportunity to step forward—whether on an expedition, wilderness medicine or custom course. Students of all ages graduate from their courses prepared to step forward and lead their communities in a changing world. Graduates have a lifelong desire for leadership, commitment to continued skills development, and ongoing education. Since 1965, NOLS has embraced and explored the unknown through outdoor and classroom-based experiences.

NOLS is a national leader in custom education, and Lehigh joins UPenn’s Wharton School of Business, UNC’s Morehead-Cain Foundation, Philips Exeter Academy, the C5 Foundation, and other leading educational institutions in partnering with NOLS. NOLS has also worked with businesses such as GE and Timbuk2 to help them improve their communication skills, practice decision-making techniques, and coalesce around community values. The same lessons NOLS uses to prep astronauts for the unpredictable rigors of space will help you learn to lead in today’s unpredictable world.

Learn more about the NOLS core curriculum and learning outcomes >