EC 630 – Mattole Field Institute

In 2015, a new field-based course (EC 630 – Mattole Field Institute) introduced the 2015 E&C cohort to place-based social science research through an immersive 5-day trip to the Mattole Valley. In 2016, new E&C students again had the opportunity to take the course. These students read a number of books and articles to introduce them to academic concepts and to the economic and restoration history of the Mattole, and met for an all-day discussion on the Humboldt campus August 14th. They were then accompanied by their instructors, Erin Kelly (assistant professor in the Forestry and Wildland Resources Department at Humboldt) and Flora Brain (director of the Mattole Field Institute) from August 15th through the 19th on an in-depth exploration of the socioecological landscape of the Mattole, camping along the Mattole River and meeting with residents to talk about their attachment to the place and their livelihoods.

During the course, students learned about the history and future of natural resource management, land use, and social and human capitals from restorationists, ranchers, foresters, farmers, teachers, and community leaders. Students visited ranches and forest lands, restoration projects and community centers, and learned about how Mattole residents live in an isolated but beloved part of Humboldt County.

One of the goals of the course was to provide an introduction to research for new graduate students. As a follow-up to the field course, E&C students are writing and presenting research prospectuses based on data collected in the field. All the Mattole participants will be invited to watch research presentations, and we are working with a Mattole historian to maintain records of students’ work.