In this immersion course held in residence at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Arizona, we discuss the scientific, technical, and political aspects of ground-based research observatories. The course features the MDM Observatory, of which UM is a consortium member. We also take advantage of the many other, nearby astronomical facilities, both on- and off-site, to study the variety of instrumentation and telescope properties. Students use MDM telescopes to carry out small science projects. We also examine observatories in the context of their natural and sociopolitical environment, and their relationship to local communities, with emphasis on education and public outreach.