History of the Southwest Institute
The Institute began in 1984 as a project of the Southwest Studies Committee at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Envisioned as an interdisciplinary and multicultural flagship program focused on the American Southwest, the Institute would support degree programs and research in Southwest Studies. At the same time, the Institute would be responding to the new state mandate that teachers utilize more New Mexico and Southwest topics in classroom instruction.
The Southwest Institute was structured as a lecture and field combination program, as broad and inclusive as possible within a given region (geographic location) of study. Following a lecture series, participants were encouraged to
register for a field program to visit selected sites with a team of experts.The format has always been one of traditional regional geography: a sequence of natural environment, prehistoric cultures, layers of historic cultures, and finally current issues that affect the study area.
In 1995 the Institute moved from UNM and was condensed into one eight day program: one day of lectures and seven days in the field. Academic credit continued to be offered through UNM, but became optional. For three years two different programs were offered each summer. In 1996 the Institute became affiliated with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation, and now offers one new program each year.
The Regions Over the Years Have been:
1985 The Rio Arriba - Rio Abajo in New Mexico

1986 The Rio Grande - Heart of New Mexico

1987 The Canyon Country of the Colorado Plateau

1988 The Chacoan-Mesa Verdean Cultural Areas
1989 (canceled due to budget cuts)

1990 The Head of the Rio Grande

1991 The Gateway Plains and the Santa Fe Trail

1992 The Ancient Ones of the Four Corners Area

1993 Early Contacts Along The Rio Grande 1994 The Borderlands: Past and Present
1995 Canyon Country of the Colorado Plateau and The Gateway Plains and the Santa Fe Trail

1996 Dinè Bikèyah: The Land of the Navajo and Canyon Country of the Colorado Plateau

1997 Along the Great Divide and Dinè Bikèyah: The Land of the Navajo

1998 The Camino Real

1999 Rocky Mountain High

2000 The Pueblo Province

2001 Program: Around the Mogollon Rim