In Briar Cliff's own backyard sits the Sioux City Prairie. This 150-acre Nature Conservancy preserve protects the nation's largest urban tallgrass prairie. Located directly west of campus, it offers Briar Cliff students a noteworthy outdoor classroom.
With that in mind, Briar Cliff established the Center for Prairie Studies in 2009, thanks to a major grant from the Gilchrist Foundation. The Center has received additional support from individuals, the Woodbury County Conservation Foundation, the Loess Hills Audubon Society and the Loess Hills Alliance.
The Center provides leadership regarding Briar Cliff's goal “to educate, acquire and respect a sense of place from the prairies of Iowa’s Loess Hills to the global arena," especially as the Center works to “promote a critical understanding of our unique geographic location and our cultural response to it.”
Core functions of the Center for Prairie Studies:
- Funding annual scholarships to Briar Cliff students showing a demonstrated interest in prairie studies.
- Providing grants to faculty who desire to incorporate greater prairie content within their coursework. Grants awarded
- Sponsoring lectures and conferences on campus.
- Promoting local prairie education.
- Offering research and travel opportunities for faculty and students.
- Conducting prairie walks and actively supporting local prairie preservation.
- Maintaining a prairie resource collection.
Prairie studies may include the environment, literature, history, politics, architecture and/or the arts.