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Curriculum

Our program will provide you with an intensive semester that focuses on coastal environments from several perspectives simultaneously: scientific, literary, historical, and cultural. We will provide a framework for understanding and appreciating the coastal environment not simply in biological and ecological terms but also in historical and cultural terms. The academic program of the Coastal Studies semester is comprised of 16-17 semester hours of credit and is divided among several important components:

Coursework: 

The theory and practice of environmental science. You will be engaged in five closely interrelated courses during the semester that will take you far from traditional classroom and laboratory settings. Literary readings, ecological concepts, social perspectives, and historical writings will all be explored intellectually and experienced personally by participants in our learning expedition. This multidisciplinary approach to learning and problem-solving is the foundation of environmental science. You will apply your newly acquired knowledge to environmental problems facing communities and natural systems along the Atlantic coast – rising sea level is a good example.   

Research Practicum: An open-ended inquiry into environmental issues: 

An interdisciplinary research practicum will weave together scientific, historical and cultural threads to act as a unifying element for the semester-long experience. It will carry 2 credits of independent study in environmental science and be an integrative component of each of the classes in the program. The research practicum will be science-based but have an interdisciplinary framework. It will be adapted to each student's interests and to each of the sites visited so that each student's research will develop as the class moves from one location to another.  

Co-curricular Activities: Making connections: From formal learning to personal growth and careers:  

Scientific seminars offered at the laboratories we visit, extended field experiences in natural areas such as the salt marshes, and day-trips to sites of unique ecological, historical, and cultural interest will be a vital part of the program. We will involve the students in local policy issues confronting the communities through which we travel by inviting local experts (scientists, historians, writers, or conservationists) to discuss currently relevant issues with our students in informal settings. You will also attend a professional scientific meeting as part of the Coastal Semester experience. There you will have the opportunity to hear and interact with research scientists and students from a wide range of universities. Through this experience you can explore the environmental sciences as an option for graduate study and/or a life-long career.