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
Prerequisite: 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
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.
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
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.
of Coastal Studies Field Experiences:
BIOL 348 Tropical Marine Ecology
Prerequisites: BIOL 201 or permission of the instructor: (May term/3
Students will conduct a firsthand examination of the physical, chemical, and
biological characteristics and processes of nearshore tropical marine
ecosystems. Environments such as corals reefs, sea grass 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.