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Courses Offered

Hood’s Coastal Studies Semester takes place during the fall semester (August to December). The curriculum combines the study of culture and society with science and technology for a truly multidisciplinary approach to learning about environmental science and coastal issues. Interactions with scientists, authors and other environmental professionals in the region augment class discussions, lab investigations and fieldwork. An interdisciplinary research practicum weaves together scientific, historical and cultural threads to unify the semester-long experience. Students earn 16 to 17 semester hours of academic credit through successful completion of courses. The courses offered may vary somewhat from year to year. However, the following four courses are offered during every Coastal Studies Semester.

ESHN 210 Coastal Oceanography

Prerequistie: A 100-level lab science course. (4 credits)
This lecture and laboratory course will explore the physics, chemistry, and geology of coastal oceans.  Such topics as plate tectonics, shoreline geology, seawater chemistry, ocean circulation, and sedimentology will be considered in relation to the use and management of coastal resources.  Life in the oceans will be investigated, highlighting coastal marine communities, primary production, and the use of living marine resources.  The course will emphasize laboratory and field investigations that will take place at selected sites along the eastern seaboard of the United States.

ENSP 212 Coastal Community Ecology

Prerequisite: ENSP 101 and ENSP 102, or a 100-level lab science course. (4 credits)
In this course you will study the structure and function of Atlantic coastal communities. The course investigates adjacent aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the natural linkages that connect them as large-scale hydroscapes. Case studies of resource management issues and human impacts on these communities and their individual populations will be used to exemplify basic ecological concepts. This course emphasizes laboratory and field investigations that will take place at selected sites along the eastern seaboard of the United States as part of the Coastal Studies Semester.

INST 311 The Chesapeake Bay: Human Impacts on a Natural System

Prerequisite: Open to sophomores, juniors or seniors or with permission of the instructor. (3 credits)
In this course we will examine the geology and natural history of the Chesapeake Bay region in the context of society's exploitation of a natural system.  After a discussion of ecological perspectives of the Chesapeake Bay, we will trace the settlement of the region - how the Bay affected the society that developed along its shores, and how this growth and development in turn, affected the Bay.  Readings from the scientific literature will be combined with historical, sociological and economic readings to form a coherent portrait of the interplay between society and the environment.

ENSP  370 Coastal Studies Practicum

Prerequisites:  Concurrent enrollment in ENSP 212 and ENHN 210 or permission of instructor. (2 credits)
The origins and answers to coastal environmental problems are found by studying the interplay among science, technology, society, and culture of the region.  Working as a team, students will work collaboratively to define a coastal issue facing mid-Atlantic communities.  Past topics include the sources and impact of untreated sewage effluent, the effects of marine debris on public beaches, and the importance of abandoned fishing gear. They will design a multidisciplinary study that addresses that issue from several perspectives. Working in teams, students will collect information, synthesize the material and provide their results and interpretations in both a written report and oral presentation.

The fifth Coastal Semester offering is always of an interdisciplinary nature and changes from year to year.  The following are examples of courses which have been offered during past semesters.


ENGL 268 The Literature and Culture of Coastal Environments

Prerequisite: ENGL 100 or 101 or 3 credits from ENGL 110-139. May be repeated with a different topic. (3 credits)
This course will focus on how we interpret our environment and how we shape public policy from these interpretations (and, conversely, how public policy shapes how we see the environment). We will look, first, at "nature": how we have been taught to approach it, how we are used to "using" it or "seeing" it. Then, we will look, quite specifically, at the coastal locations where you will be residing, reading literature from/about these places and finding out more about the specific public policy issues that are directly related to the coastal environment. We will end by studying attempts to create more environmentally sound cities and towns.

ENSP 201 Current Controversies in Environmental Science

Course is offered as needed (3-4 credits)

A discussion course in which one current environmental controversy is investigated in detail.   Past topics have included human population dynamics, water resources and toxic waste disposal, and the environmental consequences of nuclear war.  The class visits or invites guest speakers from relevant federal, state and private institutions.  Each student selects a facet of the problem under investigation writes a term paper on that topic and presents an oral summary to the class. 

The Coastal Studies minor encompasses a set of four required courses and two electives.  The required courses and one elective will be offered in a completely block-scheduled manner during the Fall Coastal Studies Semester.  The additional elective, a Coastal Studies Field Experience, will be offered during January and May sessions each year and require extensive travel to a coastal location to study the environmental issues of that locale.

Examples of Coastal Studies Field Experiences:

BIOL 348 Tropical Marine Ecology

Prerequisites:  BIOL 201 or permission of the instructor: (May term/3 credits/lab fee).
Students will conduct a first-hand examination of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes of nearshore tropical marine ecosystems.  Environments such as corals reefs, seagrass beds, rocky intertidal, sandy beaches and mangrove swamps will be studied.   Students will be involved in intensive fieldwork, readings and discussion, which will focus on interactions between the system's biota and the physical and chemical parameters unique to the tropical western Atlantic Ocean.

ENSP 380 The South Florida Watershed

Prerequisites:  ENSP 210, ENSP 212, or permission of instructor: (January or May term/3 credits/lab fee).
Through travel to sites within the South Florida Watershed, students will be immersed in the environmental issues of this coastal location.  Environmental topics will be studied within the framework of the natural, historical, social, and cultural milieu found in South Florida.  Students will be involved in fieldwork, readings and discussions with local constituencies to develop a holistic view of the development, impacts and possible avenues of resolution for contemporary coastal environmental issues.
Contact the Coastal Studies Semester Coordinator in the Department of Biology for more details.