About Us

These digital exhibits were created by College of Idaho students under the instruction of Professor Rochelle Johnson as part of the Gipson First-Year Seminar Courses.

They invite us to examine the relationship between ourselves and the material world, with a special focus on how “things” take on value in culture.

All artifacts studied are held by the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History.


"We are part of that nature that we seek to understand."

–Karen Barad

The Gipson Honors Program

The College of Idaho Gipson Honors Program serves outstanding individuals who have demonstrated broad intellectual curiosity and a developed aptitude for academic leadership. The Gipson Honors Program offers these select students guided opportunities for leadership development, academic growth, and professional preparation.  

Under the instruction of Professor Rochelle Johnson, each Gipson Honors student completes a First-Year Seminar. This course is an inquiry-based seminar emphasizing analytical reading, critical thinking, and academic writing.

Beginning in 2016, the Gipson Honors First-Year Seminar partnered with the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History to research natural artifacts. See the results below.

Orma J. Smith

Museum of Natural History

The only natural history museum in the region encompassing southwestern Idaho, southeastern Oregon and northern Nevada, the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History is the premier resource for environmental and natural history education in the region. The Museum is listed in the "30 Most Amazing Higher Education Natural History Museums" list compiled by Best College Reviews. The Museum’s extensive collections and programs support the education of The College of Idaho students and the general public, as well as numerous research activities.

"The more I handled things and learned their names and uses...

...the more joyous and confident grew my sense of kinship with the rest of the world."

–Helen Keller


 Explore the students digital exhibits below!


Our Inspiration and Sponsors

This project was inspired by a similar one conducted at Harvard University and is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's program in Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities. The program "assists select colleges, universities, and research institutes in the work of training scholars and producing scholarship in the humanities broadly conceived, and thereby contributing to culture and society."

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