New Spring 2024 Field Course at UNM! GEOG 499: Environmental Justice in Greater Chaco

oil and gas leasing protest

  (Greater Chaco Coalition protesting an oil and gas lease sale in March 2018)


The department of Geography and Environmental Studies has announced a new field course that will be offered in the spring semester of 2024. The course will be instructed by one of our center affiliates, Dr. Silas Grant, who is also a faculty affiliate in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at UNM. Dr. Grant has conducted community-based research in the Greater Chaco region since 2015. Their research is broadly focused on the politics of environmental and climate justice. Dr. Grant will be assisted by Dr. Maria Lane, professor of geography and director of the R.H. Mallory Center for Community Geography. Dr. Lane conducts research on the historical geographies of environmental management in New Mexico and the Southwest.

The course will focus on the complex histories and lived realities of extraction, climate change, and fights for environmental justice in the Greater Chaco Landscape. This class will pay special attention to the environmental, social, and spatial dimensions of oil and gas extraction, which has surged in New Mexico in the last decade.


 well greater chaco

Students taking this class can expect to gain hands-on experience in field methods and community geography:

“This class offers a unique opportunity to work with and learn from community leaders who are fighting for environmental justice amid a changing climate in New Mexico. I hope that participating in the class will give students an appreciation of these longstanding struggles and a chance to contribute towards these efforts through field-based research and service learning.” -Dr. Grant


 (A fracking well in the Greater Chaco Landscape)


Students will learn about environmental issues in the Greater Chaco region in the classroom and then will visit numerous locations throughout the region to learn from community leaders. To provide this unique learning opportunity, field activities will be partially funded by the Center for Community Geography, the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, and the Sustainability Studies Program.


The course schedule is unique and offers flexibility for students: 

“This course meets a few times during the spring semester, and then has an intensive field component sandwiched between the spring and summer semesters. We’re hoping that this schedule will be appealing to students who are looking to take an extra class this year, or who, for whatever reason, are hoping to take a reduced courseload in spring and make up the credits afterwards.” -Dr. Grant

 Students and professors will meet in the classroom on Wednesday afternoons for a total of four times during the second half of the semester. The required field trip is scheduled for May 14-21, between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of summer courses. 


The course is open to both graduates and undergraduates.

See the course flyer or the more detailed GES course information sheet for more information! 


Instructor permission is required to register for this course. To obtain permission, please fill out this form. If you have additional questions, contact Silas at 

Students in GES and Sustainability Studies will be given priority for registration until November 10th. After November 10th, registration will be open to all other majors and degrees.