Semester in the American Southwest

Castleton’s Semester in the American Southwest provides a hands-on, multicultural experience in a unique and fascinating region of the United States. Few places within the U.S. borders offer such a rich opportunity for the study of ancient and contemporary Native American cultures, the arts, anthropology, and the natural environment.

The Southwest is home to a great diversity of cultures including American Indian cultures such as Navajo, Pueblo, Hopi, as well a thriving Hispanic tradition and a uniquely Western Anglo-American way of life. While English is the primary language, Spanish and several tribal languages are in common use. Enriching this unique wealth of cultural opportunity is a contemporary explosion in the fine arts (more than 100 galleries, 13 museums and the highest percentage of artists per capita in the US.) Recreational opportunities are abundant (Hiking, biking, rafting etc.).

The semester will commence with a week at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico - a desert retreat and study center - where we begin our classes, acclimate to the high altitude desert and embark on our exploration of the American Southwest.

The remainder of the semester will be based in Santa Fe, New Mexico – a vibrant, modern, multicultural city of 70,000, founded in 1610. While the city has a 400+ year history, it also has all of the modern conveniences including McDonalds, Starbucks and Walmart.

An important component of our semester will be the many field trips and camping excursions to extraordinary places such as the Grand Canyon AZ, Mesa Verde CO, Chaco Canyon NM, Taos and Pecos Pueblos of NM, Bandelier and Pecos national monuments; the Four Corners Monument, the Hopi Mesas, and a rafting trip down the San Juan River in Utah.


The semester runs 13 weeks beginning about August 24, 2020 and finishing before Thanksgiving on November 24, 2020.


The Semester in the Southwest costs the same as a semester at Castleton!

  • Financial Aid – All financial aid can be applied to the program
  • Tuition & Housing - Tuition and Room Charges (without a meal plan) are the same as a semester on campus at Castleton
  • Travel - You are responsible for your travel costs to and from Santa Fe. All other travel throughout the Southwest is including in your tuition 

Living in the Southwest

The first week we will reside at Ghost Ranch in Abuiquiu, NM.  This Retreat Center will give us time to bond as group, hike, experience the landscape of the Southwest and acclimate to a desert climate. 

During the semester our home away from home will be the International Hostel of Santa Fe. We will also spend significant time in the field traveling and camping.


Breakfasts and some dinners are included throughout the semester. We recommend budgeting $1350 for food for the semester. Some of this will be pooled for group purchasing of food for camping trips.  There are excellent facilities for cooking at the International Hostel of Santa Fe. There are also many excellent places to eat in Santa Fe and throughout the Southwest.


13 to 18 credit hours are available. The majority of the learning and coursework will be experiential – that is, hands-on, in the field (fieldtrips, museum and gallery tours, anthropological site visits, etc.). Experiential learning will be combined with traditional classroom work at the Santa Fe facility and in the field.  Our classroom is wherever we are. Additionally, there will be opportunities for internships and independent studies within your major. All courses will be Castleton University courses and count as credits at Castleton University.

Get Out of the Classroom! Get On with the Learning!  

Applications due February 2020.

For more information, please email Professor Tersh Palmer or call (802) 468-1341. His office is in Leavenworth Hall, room 160.