Sociology in Zion National Park 2019

Dr. David Burley conducted a second annual study away trip to the wondrous Zion National Park in southern Utah from June 3-11. The trip offered students hands-on experience in environmental sociology. Students learned about the various roles and responsibilities of the things the National Park Service: balancing tourism and preservation, park management, protection, and tourism development decisions. For example, during the Labor Day weekend of 2018, there were so many people attempting to hike Angel's Landing, one of the park's most popular hikes that involves traversing a 1000 foot precipice using chains, that rangers had to begin a queue and let a few people go at a time in order to ensure everyone's safety. This year, students also learned how the protracted federal government shutdown affected the park, rangers, visitors and the overall well-being of Zion.

Students also met with local officials from Zion's gateway town of Springdale, Utah. Zion is the economic lifeblood of the town - but with more than 4.5 million visitors a year, there are also many challenges. Students also learned how historically, humans have shaped this land and have been shaped by it. 

Dr. Burley is planning the trip again for 2020 and it is open to anyone. If you are interested in future trips, email Dr. Burley at