The Western Lands & Peoples Initiative is a series of programs and events highlighting interdisciplinary research within the College of Letters and Sciences that is focused on the places and peoples of the the Western United States and Canada. The departments involved include Ecology, Earth Sciences, English, History and Philosophy, and Native American Studies.

MSU is the ideal home for such studies due to our expertise, community networks, and geographic location at the interface between the Great Plains and the Mountain West. Our current areas of research strength include: the history, literature, and culture of the West; ecological studies of issues affecting wildlife and fisheries of the region; and studies on the West's geography, geology and resources. Our location also provides us the opportunity to examine the region from both an American and Canadian perspective as the critical issues facing the North American West yesterday and today -- management of natural resources, energy, agriculture, recreation -- are broadly similar in the U.S. states of the northern Great Plains and northern Rockies and the contiguous Canadian provinces.

As a public, land-grant institution our charter is to serve and educate all citizens in the State of Montana. MSU conveys research and learning to every county in the state via our local extension offices which are a trusted resource for local communities and economies. This established network keeps us connected to the traditional economic mainstays of the West -- agriculture, mining and timber –- while we explore the impact of new opportunities such as recreation, tourism, and technology for the future of the region. We are also are proud to partner with tribal communities throughout our state to study and address pressing public health issues and to educate Montanans on the culture and history of American Indians.