HIST 431/636: The North American Plains


Information on Summer 2012 Offering

North Dakota State University


Enroll in Campus Connection: HIST 431-01 (10997) or HIST 631-01 (10998)



HIST 431/631: The North American Plains, taught by Professor Tom Isern, will be offered as a summer course for the first time in 2012. The web headquarters for the course will be a Facebook page, the same one used during the spring term, reformatted for summer use. That reformatting will not take place until spring term has ended. This page, then, provides preliminary information for those enrolling for the summer course.


This is a regular course, not one offered via distance education. It is scheduled and designed, however, to fit summer activity schedules. It operates as what we call a “bookend course.” This means we have an intensive session in the beginning, and one at the end, and in-between we maintain contact and continue work online. (That’s what the Facebook page is for. Location of Facebook page: facebook.com/hist431) Moreover, as a summer course, this offering incorporates fieldwork in the prairie environment, giving the course an experiential dimension.


HIST 431 is certified for general education credit in Humanities + Cultural Diversity. It also, of course, counts for the major or minor in History. HIST 631 is a regular graduate course that is degree-eligible.


Calendar for HIST 431/631 – Inclusive Dates 1 June to 15 July 2012

1-3 June, Fargo, location TBA

Front Bookend Session: Friday 6:00-9:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm, Sunday 9:00am-Noon

Orientation lectures, guidelines for assignments, beginning of readings, visits to historic sites

4 June to 6 July

Online Transactions

Readings and reports conducted individually, reported via Facebook forums and other online means

13-15 July, Richardton, Assumption Abbey

Back Bookend Session: Arrive Richardton by 6:00pm Friday, remain for weekend of field study and service learning in Dunn County & vicinity, depart Richardton by 6:00pm Sunday

Visits to historic sites and participation in historic restorations, followed by wrap-up session Sunday afternoon


Notice that although the first bookend session takes place in Fargo, the concluding one takes place in Richardton (west of Bismarck). Lodging there, in a residence hall maintained by Assumption Abbey, will be free to students. There will be some modest costs for meals, purchased on your own, and students are responsible for getting themselves to Richardton. (We can arrange carpooling during the first bookend session.)


Text for the course: Walter P. Webb, The Great Plains, available from the Varsity Mart and from most online providers – all editions are substantially the same. Obtain this text prior to our first meeting on 1 June. Other readings either are provided or are assigned individually. The course will require substantial readings and discussions, along with its experiential elements. The workload is reasonable, but it requires students to work with initiative and at a fairly high level.


On the other hand – there is a fair bit of fun involved with this course! It’s not your typical lecture course.


There are many questions remaining to answer, but this should suffice for preliminary information and calendar planning. Once you have enrolled, watch your email for updates. If there are questions, then here is contact information:


isern@plainsfolk.com / 701-799-2942



Isern Home Page