Campus: CSU Fullerton -- August 2, 2002

Wilderness Beckons Incoming Freshmen to TREK

A dozen incoming freshmen at Cal State Fullerton soon will be combining the traditional classroom experience with a trek to Kings Canyon National Park for a program geared to inner discovery.

From Aug. 1-22, participants will take part in field excursions and complete two college
courses ¾ all before fall semester classes begin.

The Trail Ratified Experiential Knowledge (TREK) is a new freshman program that offers classes in a wilderness setting to stimulate interest in environmental issues and active learning, according to Mitchell E. Avila, assistant professor of philosophy who conceived the program.

“Experience, when focused through the lens of reason and reflection is not only a source of our knowledge about the natural world, but also a valuable resource for constructing a comprehensive worldview that addresses questions about who we are and our place in the natural world,” said Avila, who will teach in the TREK program with Robert Voeks, professor of geography.

Voeks’ long love of mountain environments and wilderness makes the program of great interest to him. “We want to introduce freshmen early on to geography and philosophy as a way to get them interested in these fields,” he said.

Participants are scheduled for a one-day field trip to the top of Mt. Baldy Aug. 4, as well as a field excursion Aug. 10-16 to East Lake that will involve a 12-mile hike each way and an overnight stay.

In addition to camping out under the stars, TREK students will tackle a course that explores global environmental issues and offers a geographical analysis of the Earth’s environmental problems. The subject matter includes population growth, agriculture and pesticides, climate change, forestry and fishing, energy, endangered species and development.

Also scheduled is Philosophy 101 – “Meaning/Purpose/Good Life,” an introduction to Western and Eastern approaches to philosophy that addresses such questions as: What is happiness? What is the good life? Does life have meaning and purpose?

“Our goal is that the total experience will be a life-changing one, resulting in more actively engaged students, both in their studies and in taking a leadership role on campus,” said Avila.

Media Contacts: Avila at (714) 278-2272 or cellular phone at (909) 489-4566
Voeks at (714) 278-3361 or
Susan Katsaros of Public Affairs at (714) 278-4854 or

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