Alaska’s storied Yukon River is a classroom without walls for new students in 2013


Alaska Pacific University has unveiled a first-of-its-kind course that combines active learning and academic excellence with only-in-Alaska backcountry adventure.

Starting in September, students who are new to college or new to APU may enroll in a four-week introduction-to-college class whose centerpiece is a float trip along a portion of the legendary Yukon River.

Alaska Pacific University President Don Bantz announced the new course Feb. 11.

“APU Expedition Alaska puts us on the map – literally and figuratively – as a university that understands how student success depends on a rewarding transition to college life,” Bantz said.

APU students will encounter wilderness Alaska in ways that most tourists never see:

  • Jumping-off point for Expedition Alaska is the former goldmine town of Eagle, just 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
  • At nearly 2,000 miles, Alaska’s longest river slices east-west through acres of fireweed and thinly settled terrain known over the centuries to Alaska Native people, gold stampeders and dog-team-driving mail carriers.

“I’m thrilled to be among APU faculty who’ll be teaching an Expedition class and floating part of the Yukon with our students,” Bantz said.

APU Expedition Alaska offers practical insight into the university’s mission emphasizing personalized instruction, faculty-student collaboration, leadership and creativity.

The course is for first-year students and sophomore-year transfers. They’ll float the Yukon in paddle canoes or rafts by day and set up camp beside the river each night. Gear will be hauled to the Eagle starting point by Anchorage-based Carlisle Transportation Systems.

Students may choose one of four Expedition courses combining classroom time on the APU campus and a river trip Sept. 4-14.

Course readings include “A Land Gone Lonesome,” author Dan O’Neil’s account of regional history and his own Yukon River journey.

APU Expedition courses focus on psychology; wilderness skills; Alaska natural history; and sustainability studies. A campus-based Expedition Alaska course also is offered.

Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Alaska Pacific University is committed to personalized, experiential learning that incorporates Alaska as a principal classroom. APU is Alaska’s only four-year, private baccalaureate liberal arts university.