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The environmental sciences curriculum at College of the Atlantic brings together the biological and the physical sciences in exploration of the earth's systems. Students learn to apply the scientific method to trace ecological and evolutionary patterns, study natural communities as ecological systems, and understand the interactions of people and nature. At the same time, the college's interdisciplinary approach to the sciences enables students to apply historical, aesthetic, economic, and literary modes of thought to enhance the scientific method.
The college's location, adjacent to the Gulf of Maine and Acadia National Park, provides a rich setting for field research and students often begin fieldwork in their first term. The college's facilities also include two island research stations and two organic farms.
AD3014SoundscapeSoundscape may be defined as an environment of sound (or sonic environment) with emphasis on the way it is perceived and understood by the individual, or by a society. It thus depends upon the relationship between the individual and any such environment. The term may refer to actual environments, or to abstract constructions such as musical compositions and tape montages, particularly when considered as an artificial environment. In this interdisciplinary course we investigate a broad range of acoustic concepts, ranging from a scientific treatment of the nature and behavior of sound both in air and underwater, the biology of hearing, the use of sound by animals in communication, and the cultural applications of sound and music in human society. Students will explore methods of composition using sounds as materials for assigned projects. Various approaches to understanding and experiencing sound will be examined, including spoken word, radio shows, music, and experimental forms. Labs will focus on understanding the nature of sound, and practical application of sound equipment, technique and theory. Students will learn about microphones, sound recording, amplification, and the physics of sound. The course will culminate in a performance to the community of student presentations that expresses the wide use of sound as part of our culture. Evaluation will be based on class participation and a set of assignments, including a final project. Emphasis will be placed on an artistic interpretation of soundscape, although students will be expected to have a basic understanding of the scientific basis of acoustic phenomena.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: One AD and one ES course. Class Limit: 12. Lab fee $60. Meets the following degree requirements: ADS
This course reviews how simple and stereotyped actions may be built into complex behaviors and even into apparently sophisticated group interactions. Emphasis is placed on contemporary understanding of Darwinian selection, ethology, behavioral ecology and sociobiology. There are two classes a week. Extensive readings are chosen from a text and articles from scientific and popular periodicals. Evaluations are based on participation in discussions and several quizzes. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Requires a previous intermediate-level course in species zoology, and signature of the instructor. Offered every other year. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $10. *ES*
This course's goal is to develop the student's ability to understand the biochemical literature and to relate the structures of biological chemicals to their properties and by surveying the aims and designs of the most important, basic metabolic processes. Emphasis is on features common to all pathways (enzyme catalysis and regulation) and purposes unique to each (energy extraction, generation of biosynthesis precursors, etc.) Most of the course looks at processes that most organisms have in common; some attention is paid to how these processes have been adapted to meet the demands of unique environments. This course should be especially useful to students with interests in medicine, nutrition, physiology, agriculture, or toxicology. The class meets for three hours of lecture/discussion each week. Evaluations are based on a midterm exam and a final paper. Offered every other year. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: At least one term of organic chemistry. *ES*
Why do we get shorter and wrinklier with age? Were dinosaurs warm-blooded? How do grasshoppers hop? These diverse questions are all within the realm of biomechanics. A knowledge of biomechanics, or the ways in which plants and animals cope with the laws of physics, can promote an understanding of organisms at all levels of organization, from molecules to ecosystems. In this course we explore several areas of physical science, including mechanical engineering, materials science, and fluid dynamics, as a means of gaining insight into the biological world. Students attend two lecture sessions per week and one three-hour lab session for discussions of current research in biomechanics, review of homework assignments, and laboratory observations or demonstrations. Evaluations are based on participation in discussions, weekly problem sets, two term papers, and a final exam. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: One college-level course in Biology and one college-level course in Math or Physics or signature of instructor. Class limit: 16. Offered every other year. Lab fee: $15. *ES* *QR*
This course is the continuation of Calculus I. It begins by considering further applications of the integral. We then move to approximations and series; we conclude the course with a brief treatment of differential equations. The mathematics learned are applied to topics from the physical, natural, and social sciences. There is a weekly lab/discussion section. Evaluations are based on homework, participation in class and lab, and tests. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Calculus I or the equivalent. Class limit: 20. Lab fee $10. *ES* *QR*
ES063Functional Vertebrate Anatomy
This course provides an overview of morphological variation in the vertebrates. Emphasis is placed on modifications of the general vertebrate body plan in response to the requirements of survival in different habitats and different forms of locomotion. The class examines possible evolutionary pathways from a presumed aquatic "proto-vertebrate" through the development and radiation of fish and terrestrial animals and secondarily aquatic species such as the marine mammals. Students are evaluated on participation in lab and lecture, a number of quizzes, and one term project. Two lectures/discussion sessions and one lab period per week.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Biology I and II or equivalent. Offered every other winter. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $25. *ES*
This course is a comprehensive introduction to the biology of amphibians and reptiles. We cover the systematics, physiology, behavior, and ecology of each group, with particular emphasis on the important contribution amphibian and reptilian studies have made to the fields of physiological, behavioral, and community ecology. Readings are chosen from a text and from primary literature. The course consists of two lecture/discussion sessions per week and one lab/field trip every week. Weather dictates the number and focus of field trips, but students should expect to participate in both day and night field trips throughout the term. Students are evaluated on class participation, exams, and a term-long field project. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Biology I and II or equivalent, and one Vertebrate Biology course. Class limit: 12. Offered every other year. Lab fee: $75. *ES*
ES1012Chemistry for ConsumersThis class is designed to introduce the perspective from which chemists view their world. It begins with examining how life reflects properties of bio-molecules, moves to discussions of the chemistry of nutrition, cooking, agriculture and medicines. The class then shifts gears and discusses how the properties of useful materials such as metals, ceramics, polymers reflect their microscopic structures. Evaluations are based on participation in classes and labs and a final project. Offered every other year.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Lab fee $20. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1014Gardens and Greenhouses:Theory/Practice of Organic GardeningThis class offers a good foundation of knowledge for a gardener to begin the process of organic gardening, as well as an understanding of what defines organic gardening. The information presented focuses on soil fertility and stewardship, the ecology of garden plants, soil and insects, and practical management of the above. The garden is presented as a system of dynamic interactions. Emphasis is given to vegetable crops and soil fertility. Laboratories include soil analysis, tree pruning, seedling establishment, weed and insect identification, garden design, covercropping, composting, and reclamation of comfrey infested area. Evaluations are based on participation in class and lab, written class work, exam, and final individual garden design.
Level: Introductory. Pre-requisite: Signature of Instructor. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $25. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1016OrnithologyThe study of ornithology is as old as human society itself. Birds are particularly conspicuous elements of our world, and figure prominently in our art, religious symbolism, mythology, scientific endeavors and even sport. Birds appear in European paleolithic cave paintings from 14,000 years ago, domesticated fowl are known from India circa 3000 BC, and ancient scholars such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder devoted considerable time to ornithological observations. In this century great strides have been made in the study of population biology and ecology, navigation and migration, and human induced ecological change (sometimes called human ecology), all through the study of birds. This class introduces the student to the ornithological world by using both scientific literature and direct field observation. Systematics and physiology will be reviewed, but much of our effort will concentrate on reproductive ecology, behavior and the environment, and population dynamics. There will be a strong emphasis on field observation - learning how to look at birds and their behavior in order to perhaps make larger observations about their environment.
Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $75. Class limit: 24. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1018Physics I: Mechanics and Energy
ES1020Chemistry IThis is the first half of a two-term sequence designed to help students describe and understand properties of materials. The course first explores how our current pictures of atoms and molecules can explain physical properties of materials (state, color, density, specific heat). The course then uses such pictures to explain how materials behave when mixed together. What sorts of transformations occur? How fast do they occur? To what extent do they occur? Why do they occur? Course material is applied to better understand living systems, the natural environment, and industrial products. The course meets for three hours of lecture/discussion and for three hours of lab each week. Students are strongly urged to take both terms of this course. Those wishing a less rigorous chemistry course should take Chemistry for Consumers. Evaluations are based on class participation, lab reports, and quizzes. Offered every year.
Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $75. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1022Introduction to OceanographyPlanet Earth is misnamed. Seawater covers approximately 70% of the planet's surface, in one giant all-connected ocean. This ocean has a profound effect on the planet's climate, chemistry, ecosystem, and energy resources. Billions of years ago life began there, in what now we regard as the last unexplored frontier of this planet. In this course we examine the various disciplines within oceanography, including aspects of geology and sedimentology, chemical, dynamic and biological oceanography. The course concludes with an introduction to marine ecosystems examined at various trophic levels, including phyto/zooplankton, fish and other macrofauna. Fieldwork (weather dependent) includes trips on RV Indigo, trips to intertidal and estuarine ecosystems, and possible visits to the college's islands, Mount Desert Rock and Great Duck Island. Evaluation will be by lab, quizzes and a final paper.
Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $150. Class limit: 20. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1024Calculus IThe goal of this sequence of courses is to develop the essential ideas of single-variable calculus: the limit, the derivative, and the integral. Understanding concepts is emphasized over intricate mathematical maneuverings. The mathematics learned are applied to topics from the physical, natural, and social sciences. There is a weekly lab/discussion section. Evaluations are based on homework, participation in class and lab, and tests.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Precalculus or the equivalent or signature of the instructor. Class limit: 20. Lab fee: none. Meets the following degree requirements: QR
ES1026Introduction to Chaos and FractalsThis course presents an elementary introduction to chaos and fractals. The main focus will be on using discrete dynamical systems to illustrate many of the key phenomena of chaotic dynamics: stable and unstable fixed and periodic points, deterministic chaos, bifurcations, and universality. A central result of this study will be the realization that very simple non-linear equations can exhibit extremely complex behavior. In particular, a simple deterministic system (i.e., physical system governed by simple, exact mathematical rules) can behave in a way that is unpredictable and random, (i.e., chaotic). This result suggests that there are potentially far-reaching limits on the ability of science to predict certain phenomena. Students in this class will also learn about fractals---self-similar geometric objects---including the Mandelbrot set and Julia sets. We will also read about and discuss the development of the field of chaos. In so doing, we will examine the nature of scientific communities, with a particular eye toward how changes in scientific outlooks occur. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to explore the relations between chaos, fractals, and other areas of study such as literature, art, and cultural studies. Students who successfully complete this class should gain a quantitative and qualitative understanding of the basic ideas of chaos and fractals, a greater understanding of the cultural practice of science, and improved mathematical skills. Evaluation will be based on class and lab participation, weekly problem sets several short writing assignments and a final
Level: Introductory. Prerequisite: A high school algebra course or signature of instructor. Lab fee: $20. Class limit: 15. Meets the following degree requirements: ES QR
ES1028Marine BiologyThis is a broad course, covering the biology of organisms in various marine habitats (rocky intertidal, mud and sand, estuaries, open ocean, coral reefs, deep sea), and some policy and marine management and conservation issues. The largest part of this course is focused on learning to identify and understand the natural history and ecology of the marine flora and fauna of New England, with an emphasis on the rocky intertidal of Mount Desert Island. The course meets twice per week with one afternoon for laboratory work or field trips. Evaluations are based on the quality of participation in class, one in-class practical, several sets of essay questions, and a field notebook emphasizing natural history notes of local organisms. This class is intended for first year students, who will have priority during registration. Returning students may take this course only with permission of the instructor.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Signature of instructor for returning students. Offered at least every other year. Class limit: 20. Lab fee: $60. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1032Chemistry of Foods and CookingThis course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts of chemistry in the context of food. After a brief introduction to biochemistry (why we eat), the course will work through different foods, roughly in the order that humans are thought to have exploited them. Topics will include their history, cultural significance & how their molecular structure can explain how different methods of preparation affect their nutritional and aesthetic characteristics. Each class will be based around kitchen experiments that illustrate chemical concepts. Evaluation will be based on a midterm take-home problem set and each student’s compilation of a cook-book of recipes for 15 different food types, each of which includes a discussion of how the recipe reflects the chemical principles discussed in the class.
Level: Introductory. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $50. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1034Physics and Mathematics of Sustainable EnergyThe aim of this course is to help students learn some basic physics and quantitative and analytical skills so that they can participate intelligently and responsibly in policy discussions, personal and community decisions, and ventures in the area of sustainable energy. We will begin with some basic physics, including: the definition of energy, the difference between energy and power, different forms of energy, and the first and second laws of thermodynamics. We will also provide students with a basic scientific and economic introduction tovarious alternative energy technologies. Along the way, students will gain mathematical skills in estimation and dimensional analysis, and will learn to use spreadsheets to assist in physical and financial calculations. There will also be a weekly lab to help students understand the physical principles behind different energy technologies and gain experience gathering and analyzing data.
Students who successfully complete this course will be able to apply what they have learned to basic issues in sustainable energy. For example, they will be able to evaluate and analyze a proposed technology improvement by considering its dollar cost, carbon reduction, return to investment, payback time, and how all this might depend on, say, interest rates or the cost of electricity or gasoline. Students will also be able to analyze the potential of a technology or energy source to scale up. E.g., they will be able to consider not only the benefits to a homeowner of a solar installation, but to also analyze the degree to which solar power may contribute to Maine's energy needs.
This will be a demanding, introductory, class. Evaluation will be based on weekly problem sets, participation in class and lab, and a final project. At least one college-level class in mathematics or physical science is strongly recommended.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: None. Class limit: 18. Lab fee $50.00 Meets the following degree requirements: QR ES
ES1036Biology II: Form and FunctionThis is the second half of a 20-week, two-term introductory course in biology, providing an overview of the discipline and prerequisite for many intermediate and advanced biology courses. The course further explores topics introduced in Biology I, with a particular emphasis on biological structures and their role in the survival and reproduction of organisms. We will explore principles of evolution, classification, anatomy and physiology, epidemiology, behavior, and basic ecology. The primary focus of the course is on vertebrate animals and vascular plants, but we will make forays into other phylogenetic lineages at intervals. Weekly field and laboratory studies introduce students to the local range of habitats and a broad array of protists, plants, and animals. Attendance at two lectures and one lab each week is required; course evaluation is based on class participation, exams, preparation of a lab notebook, and a mid-term presentation.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Completion of Bio I with a grade of C or higher, or a score 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the IB Biology HL exam, or permission of instructor. Offered every year. Lab fee $40. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1038Geology of Mt. Desert IslandThis course is designed to introduce students to geological concepts, tools of the trade, and to the geological history of Mount Desert Island. Throughout the course, students will learn skillsets (topographic and geologic map reading, orienteering, field observation, note taking, field measurements) and geologic principles (rock types, stratigraphy, plate tectonics, earth systems, geologic time, surface processes) both in the classroom and in the field. We will conduct multiple short field excursions on MDI and one extended weekend field trip to explore the regional geology. Students will submit a term project complete with their own field data, maps, photos, and analysis of the local and regional geology. Students will be evaluated on the term project, short quizzes, additional written assignments and lab reports. Offered every fall.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 15. Lab Fee: $100. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1040Natural ResourcesThis course will focus on various types of natural resources we have on Earth including water, soil, rock and mineral, and various energy resources (fossil fuels, alternatives). Students will learn fundamental geologic principles through a discussion of the processes forming and influencing these resources. We will explore how each type is extracted/refined/exploited/conserved for human use. We will also discuss the many environmental issues associated with each industry. Finally, we will look at the local industries built on the many natural resources available in our region of Maine. This course will appeal to students interested in geologic processes and how they relate to our resource needs. This course will also provide scientific grounding in the relevant geology for students whose primary interests are in the policy or politics of resources. Class time will be spent as lectures, discussions, labs or demonstration, and occasionally visiting a local field site. Students will be evaluated based on weekly labs and/or problem sets, a field trip report, and a final report.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 16. Lab fee: $40. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1042Geology and HumanityIn this course we will explore how geology has played a major role in human history and culture over multiple temporal and spatial scales. We will explore the underlying geological processes forming and influencing our environment and how this relates to human migration and settlement patterns, political boundaries, geohazards, resources, the modern landscape, and agriculture. This course will appeal to students interested in exploring connections between geology and other subject areas, or who are curious about humanity's place in geologic time. This course will implement readings from a range of sources: geologic textbooks, excerpts from short historical texts, and scientific journal articles. We will use class time in a variety of ways: lecture-based, seminar-style discussion, and laboratories spent visiting local field sites. Students will be evaluated based on their performance on weekly problem sets or writing assignments, a midterm quiz, as well as a term project with both oral and written presentation components.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 20. Lab fee: $15. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1044Physics IIThis course is one of a pair of courses covering a range of standard introductory physics topics. The main topics of this course are electricity and magnetism, light, and optics. As time permits, and depending on student interest, we may also cover basic astronomy and nuclear fission and fusion. Emphasis will be on how these topics relate to real world phenomena, with many hands-on lab opportunities exploring physical systems such as circuits, generators, telescopes and microscopes, as well as biological systems like the eye and the nervous system. This course makes extensive use of algebra to solve problems and mathematical formulas to explain physical phenomena. Evaluation will be based on weekly homework assignments, class participation, lab work, and two exams.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Understanding functions, a strong high school algebra background, or consent of the instructor. Physics I is not a prerequisite. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $45. Meets the following degree requirements: QR ES
ES1046Critical Zone IThis course will cover the foundational concepts in Geology and Earth System Science such as plate tectonics, rock and mineral classification, weathering and erosion, climate, and cycles: water, carbon, nitrogen. Further, students will learn to use many “tools of the trade” including using a Brunton compass, geologic mapping (field and GIS), describing and identifying rocks through outcrop, hand-sample, and thin-section analysis, and describing soils. The course will have lab and lecture components, but will also include field study at various sites within the Northeast Creek watershed including the Peggy Rockefeller Farm and The Protectorate. Students will be evaluated based on weekly or bi-weekly problem sets, quizzes, and a field project. The students will also prepare a field-based project proposal. They will work on this project proposal throughout the term with multiple opportunities for peer review and revision.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 16. Lab fee: $65. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1048Napoleon's Buttons: How Chemistry has Shaped HistoryThis course, based on the book "Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History" by Penny Le Couter is designed to challenge students to think on a deep level about how an individual molecule can shape historical events and how these events can, in turn, have an impact on the field of chemistry. The unique focus is on the role of chemistry in history rather than on the history of chemistry. Through the term, we will learn chemical principles to help us understand how molecules such as vitamin C, sugar, and progesterone have shaped global conflicts, how we perceive ourselves, and how we change the world around us. Beyond the primary text, we will draw from current news reports, the text "Organic Chemistry Principles in Context: A Story-Telling Historical Approach", and other relevant articles. Evaluations are based on participation in classes, quizzes and labs, and a final project and presentation on a molecule of choice.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Class limit: 12. Lab Fee: $20. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES1050Morphology and Diversity of MDI PlantsThis course is a survey of the major groups of plants that grow on and around Mount Desert Island. The course is field-based, will also include discussion and laboratory work. We will cover structural organization and reproductive methods found in bryophytes, ferns, fern allies, gymnosperms, and angiosperms. Ecological relationships of diverse groups with their environment provide insights into their evolutionary success or failure. Evaluations are based on class participation, quizzes, lab exams, problem sets, and a final project.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisite: none. Class limit: 20. Lab fee $25.
ES114Organic Chemistry I
This course explores the physical, chemical, and environmental properties of carbon-containing materials such as plastics, solvents, dyes, as well as all living things, and once-living materials. The lab exposes students to the common techniques of studying and manipulating such materials. Evaluations are based on midterm and final exam. The equivalent of this course is a prerequisite for biochemistry. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: A previous chemistry course. Offered every other year. Lab fee: $20. *ES*
The study of ornithology is as old as human society itself. Birds are particularly conspicuous elements of our world, and figure prominently in our art, religious symbolism, mythology, scientific endeavors and even sport. Birds appear in European paleolithic cave paintings from 14,000 years ago, domesticated fowl are known from India circa 3000 BC, and ancient scholars such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder devoted considerable time to ornithological observations. In this century great strides have been made in the study of population biology and ecology, navigation and migration, and human induced ecological change (sometimes called human ecology), all through the study of birds. This class introduces the student to the ornithological world by using both scientific literature and direct field observation. Systematics and physiology will be reviewed, but much of our effort will concentrate on reproductive ecology, behavior and the environment, and population dynamics. There will be a strong emphasis on field observation - learning how to look at birds and their behavior in order to perhaps make larger observations about their environment. Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $75. Class limit: 24. *ES*
ES191Field Ecology and Data Analysis
This course teaches students how to collect data in the field (outside), how to descriptively and quantitatively analyze these data using spreadsheet and statistical programs, and how to present the information in the form of a report or scientific paper. Some of the projects are experimental, while some are observational. There are four field projects during the term, and the tentative project areas are one terrestrial plant, one terrestrial animal, one marine, and one independent project. The methods learned will most likely include measuring population and demographic parameters, quantifying behavior, and estimating community composition. In addition to taking data in the field, students spend a substantial amount of time learning and applying statistical techniques to describe and analyze data. Lecture material includes designing data collection procedures, statistical analysis, and problem solving. Evaluations are based on write-ups of field exercises, homework on statistical techniques, oral presentations of work, and class participation. Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Signature of Instructor; intermediate level Ecology or similar courses are helpful. Offered approximately every other year. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $ 20. *ES* *QR*
ES2010Ecology: Natural HistoryThis course emphasizes field studies of the ecology of Mount Desert Island, incorporating labs and field trips. Each exercise focuses on a central ecological concept. Topics include intertidal biology and diversity, forest trees and site types, bedrock geology, soil biology, insect diversity, pollination ecology, freshwater biology, predation, herbivory, and the migration of birds. Discussions include the development of natural history as a science and the role of natural selection in the evolution of diversity. Students are expected to keep a field notebook or journal, to undertake a project, and to write a term paper. Class meets for two lecture sessions and one lab session or two field/lab sessions per week. The course is particularly appropriate for students concentrating in Environmental Education. This class is intended for first year students, who will have priority during registration. Returning students may take this course with permission of the instructor.
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: None; field work involves strenuous hiking. Class Limit: 14. Lab fee: $75. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES2012Introduction to Statistics and Research Design
ES2014Trees and Shrubs of Mount Desert IslandThis course introduces you to the native and ornamental shrubs and trees of Mount Desert Island. Lectures will cover basics of plant taxonomy and forest ecology focusing on the dominant woody plant species of the region. Laboratory and field sessions will involve the identification of woody plants and an introduction to the major woody plant habitats of the island. The course is designed to teach botany and plant taxonomy for students interested in natural history/ecology, forestry, and landscape design. Evaluations are based on class participation, weekly field/lab quizzes, a plant collection, and term project.
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Recommended: some background in Botany, Ecology. Offered every year. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $40. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES2016Edible BotanyIs the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Why are potatoes modified stems and sweet potatoes modified roots? Did you know that the true fruits of the strawberry are the achenes (seed-like structures) embedded in the flesh of the strawberry? Why is the fruit of the peanut a legume and not a nut? This introductory botany course of edible plants is aimed at enhancing your understanding of and appreciation for the plant world. We will cover general plant anatomy and morphology focusing on plant organs such as leaves, stems, fruits, seeds, and roots we use as food and discuss the botany of plant families dominating the world of agriculture. Evaluations are based on class participation, weekly laboratory/field quizzes, and term project.
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisite: An appreciation for the plants we eat. Recommended: A course in Biology. Offered every year. Class limit: 20. Lab fee: $50. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES2018Probability and StatisticsThis course provides an introduction to probability and statistics. Its goal is to give students a good understanding of what kinds of questions statistical analyses can answer and how to interpret statistical results in magazines, books, and articles from a wide range of disciplines. The course begins with understanding probability and how it can often lead to nonintuitive results. Types of statistical analyses discussed in the second part of the course include comparisons of averages, correlation and regression, and applying confidence limits to estimates of studies from both the social and biological sciences. Application of statistics to specific research problems is covered in greater depth in more advanced courses such as advanced statistics and field ecology and data analysis. Evaluation is based on class participation, problem sets, and quizzes, and an independent project.
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Offered approximately every other year. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $10.00 Meets the following degree requirements: QR
ES2020Art and Science of Fermented FoodsThis course will take an in depth look at the art and science of fermented and cultured foods. The first half of the class will focus on the microbiology of fermentation with a specific focus on products derived from milk and soybeans. Each week there will be a laboratory portion in which students will explore how the basic fermentation processes and products change with different milk and soy qualities. These small-scale experiences and experiments will be complemented with field trips to commercial enterprises in Maine and Massachusetts. In the second half of the term students will explore the differences in flat, yeast, and sourdough breads. Final projects will focus on a food way of choice and will culminate in presentations that explore the historical and cultural context in which these different cultured foods were developed and how these microbial-mediated processes enhance preservation, nutritional and economic value, and taste. Evaluations will be based on class participation, short quizzes, a lab report, journal, and a final project.
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Class limit: 12. Lab Fee: $75 (to cover use of the community kitchen, one two-day field trip to Massachusetts, to visit commercial soy product companies and supplies.) Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES2028Landforms and VegetationThe course is directed at those interested in descriptive and applied research on taxonomic and ecological aspects of plants. Using field observations and experimental methods students will explore the influence of lithology (parent material), geomorphology (landforms, including topography), and land-use history on the composition and ecology of plant communities of Mount Desert Island and other settings in Maine. Lectures will cover a broad range of topics in geoecology, including plant-soil-microbe relations, plant ecology and evolution, plant ecophysiology, stressors influencing plant species and communities of the Northeast, and conservation and restoration. Students will learn the theory and practice of plant taxonomy and the nomenclature of over 150 species of vascular plants, including the morphological and ecological traits characterizing their families. As part of the evaluation, students are responsible for making a 25-specimen plant collection from one or more plant communities and providing a detailed description on the biotic and abiotic features characterizing the chosen plant-habitat association. Students will also be exposed to methods in plant ecology, including techniques in vegetation surveying and the collection of ecological data on below- and above-ground habitat features to better characterize plant-habitat associations. While students are encouraged to explore a range of habitats on and off the island, students working on plant-habitat associations in the Northeast Creek Watershed will be able to incorporate their plant-habitat data into the Watershed Database managed by COA’s GIS Laboratory. Evaluations are based on a 25 specimen plant collection and report (30%), weekly field quizzes on plant taxonomy and ecology (30%), final project presentation on a plant community ecology topic (30%), and class participation (10%).
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: Biology 2 and Critical Zone I or II. Other recommended courses include Wild Life Ecology and Management and Chemistry of Waters. Class Size: 20. Lab Fee: $60. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES2030Marine Mammal Biology IThis course provides an introduction to the biology and natural history of marine mammals, specializing in species resident within the North Atlantic. Topics covered include: phylogeny and taxonomy; anatomy and physiology; behavior; sensory ecology; and management/conservation issues. The course includes field trips to observe animals in their natural habitat, dissection of specimens, and exposure to the professional peer review field. Students are expected to complete two individual literature-based reviews, one species- and one system-based, to be presented in class. Assessment is based on class participation, presentations as well as written submissions. Lab fee covers costs of field trips, including potential boat and field station time, and optional travel to a regional conference during the term. Offered every other year.
Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisite: Biology I, II and a writing-focused class or permission of instructor. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $200. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES3020Invertebrate ZoologyThis course is a phylogenetic survey of the major groups of animals without backbones. These animals range in size from single cells to giant squids, and they include the vast majority of animals on earth. Using text readings, assigned articles, and one afternoon per week of field/lab work, students gain an understanding of the classification, ecology, evolutionary relationships, and economic significance of this remarkably diverse collection of organisms. Students are evaluated on participation, lab notebooks, and performance on weekly quizzes and two tests.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Biology I and II or signature of instructor. Offered every other year. Class limit: 16. Lab fee $25. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES3022Differential EquationsDifferential equations are an application of calculus used to model a wide variety of physical and natural phenomena. The rate at which a cup of coffee cools, populations of predators and prey in ecosystems, the spread of disease, and the behavior of electric circuits, are all examples of systems that have been described with differential equations. This course is an introduction to ordinary differential equations, intended for students who have completed a single-variable calculus course. The course covers a variety of techniques for solving and understanding differential equations, including numerical and qualitative solution methods. Students will learn to solve and analyze differential equations using the python programming language. Students will also gain experience formulating mathematical models using differential equations. To do so, we will discuss general modeling principles and also consider several case studies. In addition to learning the mathematics of differential equations, a central goal of this course is to gain skills necessary for research in the mathematical, natural, and social sciences. This includes conceptualizing and framing a research question, conducing a literature review, giving a research presentation, and writing up results in a style appropriate for publication.
Evaluation will be based on class participation, bi-weekly problem sets, and a term-long project culminating in a presentation and short research paper. Some computer work will be required, but no computer experience is necessary.
LEVEL: Intermediate. PREREQUISITES: Calculus II or the equivalent or permission of instructor. LAB FEE: none. MEETS THE FOLLOWING DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: ES, QR
ES3024EvolutionThis course provides students with the opportunity to put their knowledge of ecology and diversity into an evolutionary framework. The emphasis is on how populations of organisms are currently evolving, with a focus on the ecological context of natural selection. Topics in the course include the genetic basis of evolutionary change, selection and adaptation, reproductive effort, co-evolution, the ecology and evolution of sex, behavioral ecology, speciation, and applied evolutionary ecology. In addition to a textbook, students read several original research articles. The course has two lectures and one discussion section per week. Evaluations are based on exams and short essay sets.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Biology I and II or equivalent. Offered every other year. Class limit: 20. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES3030Environmental PhysiologyThe manner in which animals survive in extreme environments or function at levels that far exceed human capacities has always fascinated us. In this course, we examine how an animal's physiology fashions its functional capacities under various environmental conditions. We explore the interrelationships between physiology, behavior, and ecology using an integrated and evolutionary approach in order to understand regulatory responses in changing environments. Major areas to be covered include thermoregulation, behavioral energetics, and osmoregulation. Emphasis is placed on vertebrate systems to elucidate general patterns in physiological attributes. This course has two lecture/discussion sessions per week and students are evaluated on class participation, a series of take-home exams, and a class presentation.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Biology I & II, or equivalent. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $65.00 Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES3036The History of Natural History
ES305Tropical Marine Ecology
This course in tropical marine ecology explores topics including organismal diversity, natural history of fish, invertebrates, algae, habitat diversity (coral reefs, mangroves, etc.), fisheries, and conservation. Students meet as a class weekly, alternating between a single three-hour evening seminar session and individual meetings with the instructors to discuss primary readings and research projects. In addition, this course includes a required 18-day field trip to the Yucatan over winter break. Field work is based out of Akumal on the Yucatan peninsula. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: a strong performance in previous classes (especially biology), the ability to work well as a member of a group, and enthusiasm; permission of instructors required. Class limit: 8-14 students. Lab fee: estimated at $1200. *ES*
ES3060Marine Mammal Biology I: Field StudiesThis Fall course provides an introduction to the biology and natural history of marine mammals, specializing in species resident within the North Atlantic, in a field setting. Students spend the last two weeks in August of the preceding summer at the College's Mt. Desert Rock Marine Research Station. In addition to introductory topics in marine mammal biology that include phylogeny and taxonomy; anatomy and physiology; behavior; sensory ecology; and management/conservation issues, students also integrate themselves into the resident research team and work on team projects that will include observation of animals in their natural habitat. In the Fall, students meet 3-4 further times for dissection of specimens, team project presentations, and optional attendance at a regional conference. Assessment is based on two individual literature-based reviews, one species- and one system-based, to be presented in class, participation in research projects, and written submissions of their research. Lab fee covers costs of field trips, including boat and field station time, and conference costs. A $200 nonrefundable deposit is required by June 1. Offered every other year.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Biology I, II and a writing-focused class or permission of instructor. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $500. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
This class will examine the anatomy, physiology, ecology, and evolutionary history of class Mammalia. Beginning with the evolutionary origin of the first mammals in the Triassic we will follow the adaptive radiation within the group, and the development of increasingly specialized organisms in response to changing climactic and biological conditions. During the final portion of the course, we will examine current theories of hominid evolution and the effects of human dispersal patterns on mammalian biodiversity. Lab work will focus on the identification of North American mammals, but we will also take advantage of other specimens, as they become available. Evaluation based on a series of quizzes, a lab practical, and a term project focusing on one family of mammals. Three hours of lecture/discussion per week plus one three hour lab. Intermediate/Advanced. Biology I & II required, additional courses in ecology and evolution strongly encouraged. PERMISSION OF INSTRUCTOR. Lab Fee $25.00. Offered based on demand. *ES*
ES361Environmental Chemistry: Water
Billions of years ago, ancient water molecules traversed a Goldilocks-like walk through our slowly condensing solar system, looking for a home. Mercury and Venus were much too hot. Mars and the outer planets were much too cold. Earth seemed 'just right.' With conditions capable of sustaining all of water's phases, Earth became the 'water planet.' The solid surface of the earth became sculpted by water. The composition and temperature of the earth's atmosphere became largely determined by its water. All life (that we know) came to be based upon water. It is within the water of its cells that the machinery of life grinds away and it is into water that life disposes of what it finds un-useful. Many life-forms live their entire existence bathed in water as we are bathed in air, and even we who live surrounded by air require more water every day than any other foodstuff. As such, it is appropriate to look at how our water is doing these days. Students will be evaluated on their participation in class discussion of the readings, problem sets, and participation in field studies of focused on monitoring and modeling the conditions of local waters. Level: Intermediate. Lab fee: $50. *ES*
ES373Marine Mammals and Sound
This advanced seminar class examines the role of sound in the biology of marine mammals. We start with an examination of the behavior of sound underwater, covering concepts that include sound production, propagation and reception, SONAR equations, and noise. We continue with a review of how marine mammals, with a specific focus on cetaceans, use sound to communicate, sense and orient within their environment. We conclude with a bioacoustic examination of specific management problems in marine mammal science. Topics covered in this final part will include, but will not be limited to: marine mammal fishery interactions, shipstrikes, effects of industrial noise, whale song and dialects, baleen whale orientation, and marine mammal strandings. Classes will be run in seminar style, reading intensive, with students responsible for leading discussions and topics. Evaluation is by class participation, two term papers and (possibly) a class project. Although no lab period is set for this class, students are expected to invest some time outside of class for the purpose of possible class projects. Level: Advanced. Class limit: 5-10 students. Lab fee $100. *ES*
ES381Chaos and Complex Systems
This course is a survey of a variety of modern topics in nonlinear dynamics: differential equations, finite difference equations, chaos, fractals, multifractals, boolean networks, and cellular automata. The survey will be conducted at a fairly advanced mathematical level, but the material will be covered with an applied emphasis. Numerical results and applications will be stressed rather than proofs. Evaluation will be based on class participation, weekly problem sets and a final project. Some computer work will be required, but no computer experience is necessary. The final project will provide students an opportunity to examine a particular topic or area of application in considerable depth.
Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Calculus II or the equivalent. Lab fee $10. *ES* *QR*
ES383Fisheries and Their Management
Humans have exploited the biotic resources of the ocean for thousands of years. Although early harvesting probably had minimal ecological and population impact, increased exploitation due to increasing market demand and technological advances have placed significant stress on many of the world's "fisheries". Those exploited species that have thus far avoided becoming commercially or biologically extinct, are, in many cases, threatened by collapse due to over-fishing. This course examines the exploitation of biotic resources in the oceans, including invertebrates, fish, and marine mammal populations. Importantly, it also examines the fishing techniques, fisheries technology and management of fisheries, and critiques and reviews the development of the mathematical modeling on which management is based. The class will be offered in seminar style, with students involved in the discussion and critique of readings, and researching and presenting various case histories. Students will be evaluated on the basis of participation and quality of presentations and term projects. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 12. Prerequisite: Signature of the instructor, by demonstration of competence in QR and ES disciplines. Course fee: $60. *ES*
ES395Physics III: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
This course is designed to introduce students to the two central ideas of quantum mechanics. First, the outcomes of experiments cannot be predicted exactly; one can only predict the probability of various outcomes. And second, these probabilities do not behave like normal probabilities; the probabilities interfere with each other in a manner that has no counterpart in our everyday experience with probabilities. We will develop these ideas by taking a close look at a prototypical quantum system: "spin-1/2" particles. We will carefully discuss the experimental evidence for quantum mechanics, and we will also look at some of the well-known conundrums of quantum mechanics, such as the two-slit experiment and the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox. Along the way, students will also be introduced to basic probability theory. We will conclude by looking at some of the applications and implications of quantum mechanics, such as: the Bohr atom, quantum computation, quantum cryptography, and the photoelectric effect. Quantum mechanics is an exciting, challenging topic which has made an impact in many different fields. As such, this course is designed to appeal to a wide range of students --- both those whose interests lie outside of science as well as those who are concentrating in the sciences or mathematics. Students who successfully complete this course will have gained a solid understanding of the central ideas of quantum mechanics. This understanding should be mathematical and quantitative as well as conceptual. Students will also gain some experience with scientific reasoning and quantitative problem solving. Evaluation will be based on class participation, weekly problem sets, and a final presentation or paper. Some computer work may be required, but no computer experience is necessary. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: Familiarity with algebra and trigonometry and high school chemistry or physics. Physics I and II are not prer
This course examines the causes, extent, and ecological significance of the endangered species "crisis." We examine the role of extinctions in evolutionary history and compare "natural" extinctions to current events in the Neotropics, Orient, and Oceania. We also discuss the significance of successful introductions of exotic species into different regions and their effects on native forms. Changes in land use patterns and the science of Landscape Ecology are investigated. Finally, we examine current conservation techniques in an effort to establish a workable synthesis for specific case histories. There are two lectures/discussions per week, occasional evening lectures. Level: Advanced. Pre-requisites: One intermediate Ecology course and/or signature of instructor. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $10. *ES*
ES4038Ecology and Natural History of the American WestThe American West has played a key role in the development of modern ecology and in our overall understanding of the Natural History of North America. Researchers such as Joseph Grinnell, Starker Leopold, Ned Johnson, Phillip Munz and Jim Patton contributed enormously to our understanding of the interactions, distribution and abundance of the enormous range of plants and animals occupying the western states, while the incredible variety of topography found between the Pacific slope and Great Basin Desert, containing both the highest and lowest points in the Lower 48, has provided an ideal setting for both observation and experimentation. This intensive field-based course will provide students with the opportunity to examine first-hand some key habitats within Nevada, California, and New Mexico, and to conduct a series of short projects on the fauna and flora in select sites. Areas to be examined will include terminal saline lakes, open deserts , montane meadows, pine forest, riparian hardwoods, wetlands, and agricultural landscapes. Readings will include primary sources and more popular accounts of both locations and the peoples who have lived in these lands over the past several thousand years. Evaluation will be based on class participation, a series of individual research projects and presentations, a detailed field journal, a mid-term and a final exam. This course will be integrated with and requires co-enrollment in Reading the West and Wilderness in the West.
Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Class limit: 9. Lab fee: none. Meets the following degree requirements: ES
ES410Human Anatomy and Physiology I
This is the first course in a two term sequence designed for students interested in pursuing medicine or biomedical research examines aspects of human anatomy and physiology, with particular emphasis on the digestive system, reproductive physiology, the circulatory system, immune response, and elements of nutrition and neurophysiology. This course will emphasize the relationships between anatomy and physiology and will focus on basic principles of biochemistry, the Musculoskeletal system, digestion, nutrition, osmoregulation, and circulation. Readings include a standard pre-medical text and some primary literature. Evaluation is based on a number of in-class quizzes a term paper, participation in discussion and a final exam. Level:Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisite: Biology course work, some background in chemistry and permission of Instructor. Students are strongly encouraged to take both terms. Class size: 15. Lab fee: $30. *ES*
ES412Ecology of the Winter Coastline
This is a course studying marine botany, marine algae and monitoring the "spring" time blooms of phytoplankton in Frenchman Bay. The class will cover topics such as the biology, taxonomy and ecology of marine algae. A major component of this course will be focusing on the primary productivity of marine ecosystems. Students will experience these exquisite and ephemeral phenomena through extensive lab work identifying and monitoring individual species of marine algae and phytoplankton. We will explore the flora and fauna of the islands, bays and coastal waters surrounding Mount Desert Island by looking at those organisms which make up wintertime communities. Peripheral topics will include the seasonal movement of different species of seabirds and marine mammals; discussing those species that are conspicuous by their absence, those which have stoically remained behind and those species that are entirely winter visitors. Many consider January and February as deep winter, yet this is the time when the first signs of spring appear. Students are expected to keep a field/lab notebook and to write several term papers. Students should anticipate several field trips which might test their winter hardiness. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Intermediate biology/ecology course or signature of instructor. Class limit: 14. Lab fee: $85. *ES*
ES414Human Anatomy and Physiology II
This two term sequence designed for students interested in pursuing medicine or biomedical research examines aspects of human anatomy and physiology, with particular emphasis on the digestive system, reproductive physiology, the circulatory system, immune response, and elements of nutrition and neurophysiology. Readings include a standard pre-medical text and some primary literature. Evaluation is based on a number of in-class quizzes a term paper, participation in discussion and a final exam. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisite: Biology course work, some background in chemistry and permission of instructor. Students are strongly encouraged to take both terms. Class size: 15. Lab fee $10. *ES*
ES429Organic Chemistry II
This class will continue to discuss the occurrence and behavior of additional functional groups not covered in Organic Chemistry I. Meeting twice a week, we will work our way through the remainder of the fall text and then apply the material by reading articles from the current literature of environmental organic chemistry. Assessment will be based on keeping up with the reading, class participation, and three take-home problem sets. Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Organic Chemistry I. Offered every other year. Lab fee: $50. *ES*
From the dawn of human history, plants have played an integral role in human societies across the world. The course is aimed at generating an appreciation for the myriad uses of plants by human societies, both past and present. We will explore the use of plants as food and beverages, raw materials, fuel, medicine and psychoactive drugs, spices and perfumes, genetic resources, and for religious and spiritual needs. The future ecological, economic, and social implications of our dependency on plants will also be discussed in light of current threats to plants and their native habitats, including threats to plant-human relations in traditional societies. The important roles played by human societies in maintaining floristic and associated cultural diversity will be a primary focus of readings and discussions. Evaluations will be based on class participation, involvement in class discussion, and a term project involving a half-hour oral presentation. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Signature of instructor or Edible Botany. Class limit: 15. Lab fee $30. *ES*
ES472Physics II: Introduction to Circuits
This course will provide students with a broad introduction to circuits. Students with little or no previous knowledge in electronics will learn the fundamentals of circuits in both the analog and digital realm. The course will cover topics such as current, voltage, power, resistors, capacitors and digital logic circuits, This is a hands-on course focusing more on the "how to" than the "why". By the end of the course students should be able to independently develop, implement, test and document basic circuits. Evaluation will be based on problem sets, participation in lab and class, and a final project or exam. This course makes extensive use of algebra. A college level math, physics, or chemistry class is recommended but not required. Level: Introductory. Prerequisite: High School Algebra. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $50. *ES* *QR*
ES478Evolutionary Processes in Plants
What is a species? What is the process by which species originate? Does the evolutionary process in plants differ from that of animals? What are the evolutionary consequences of being a plant? The course will address aspects of plant evolution including variation, natural selection, breeding systems, species and speciation, adaptive radiation, co-evolution, and systematics. Classic case studies of plant evolution will be used to examine the nature of the evolutionary process and introduce current hypotheses of plant evolution. The course is directed at students interested in evolutionary biology, plant ecology, and systematics. Evaluations are based on class participation, two oral presentations and term paper. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Lab fee: $25. Prerequisites: Advanced course in Biology, Signature of the instructor. Class Limit: 8. *ES*
ES480Introduction to Collections Care: Saving all the Parts
Natural history museums are major players in the great human enterprise that was started by Linnaeus over 250 years ago: to catalog all of Earth's species and understand the inherent order of these organisms. While the Earth's biotic inventory is far from complete, natural history collections presently held by reputable institutions represent extremely valuable and, in some cases, irreplaceable sources of knowledge regarding life on our planet. This course introduces students to current principles and practices of caring for and organizing collections through hands-on work with the holdings of the Dorr Museum. This course will focus on the proper storage, handling, and exhibition of collections, and cataloguing collections in accordance with currently accepted evolutionary relationships among represented taxa. Through individual and group projects, students will research and pilot practices that address short- and long-term needs of collection material. Students will be evaluated on level of class participation and successful completion of class projects, including a final project that will form the basis of a strategic plan for collections care at the Dorr Museum. This course is suitable for students interested in the study of natural history, vertebrate biology, educational studies, and exhibition in museums and galleries. Level: Introductory. Class limit: 14. Lab fee: $30.00.
ES483Molecular Evolutionary Genetics
This is a hands-on laboratory course in molecular genetics, focusing on genomic DNA isolation, genomic library construction and amplification of molecular markers by polymerase chain reaction. The course will be taught over the two-week spring break period (8 hour days, Monday through Friday), with additional meetings during spring term to discuss results, work on papers or posters and continue with some advanced reading. Participants in the course will be introduced to a variety of molecular techniques that can be used to investigate population genetics of animal species. In particular, we plan to have students apply newly learned techniques to marine species, with an emphasis on shark and skate species. The curriculum will mix hands on laboratory work with lectures and potential seminars by leading molecular ecologists. The course will meet at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory during spring break and at COA during the spring term and will culminate in research presentations to the MDIBL and COA community. Student evaluation will be based on required attendance over the entire short course, knowledge and practical use of the molecular techniques, and participation in the laboratory and the class presentation. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Lab fee: Paid through INBRE grant. Prerequisites: Signature of Instructor. Class limit: 12. *ES*
ES487Calculus III: Multivariable Calculus
The functions studied in Calculus I and II are one-dimensional. But the universe of everyday experience is, at minimum, three-dimensional. In this course we explore how Calculus can be extended so as to apply to functions of more than one variable, and thus apply to the three-dimensional world. We will begin by reviewing vectors and functions of several variables. We will then learn about partial derivatives and gradients and how apply these tools to multivariable optimization. Turning our attention to integral calculus, we will next cover double and triple integrals and their applications. We will conclude with a treatment of line integrals, flux integrals, the divergence and curl of a vector field, and Green's, and Stokes's theorems. Evaluation will be based on class participation and lengthy weekly problem sets. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Calculus II or the equivalent or signature of instructor. Lab fee $10. *QR*
ES496Theory and Applications of Complex Networks
Network structures are ubiquitous in the world around us: communication networks, transportation networks, networks of friends and acquaintances, and biological networks, to name just a few. In this class, students will learn about the mathematical similarities and abstractions that under-lie these examples. Additional examples will be drawn from molecular biology (gene regulation and protein interaction networks), economics (trading networks, relations among firms, and strategic interactions on networks), computer science (computer networks and the world wide web), and ecology (food webs). The last decade has seen an explosion of work in the theory and applications of networks to an enormously wide range of problems.
Students who successfully complete this course will: gain a broad introduction to recent work in this field; understand the strengths and weaknesses of network modeling; and be able to apply networks and network analysis in a variety of settings. Evaluation will be based on several problem sets, three short literature reviews to be posted on the course blog, and a final project on a topic of the student's choosing.
Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Pre-requisites: One college-level mathematics course, Signature of instructor. Lab fee: $10. *ES**QR*
ES5030Energy and TechnologyThis is an advanced energy course that expands on basic energy principles to take a more in-depth look at several sustainable energy technologies. This will be a project-centered course with a focus on renewable energy and conservation efforts on campus and within the community. Students will examine energy issues from several perspectives, determine possible solutions and formulate a plan to collect needed data, secure funds and work with stakeholders. Over the course of the term students will learn about technologies such as heat pumps and energy storage devices as well as conservation methods and the power grid. The overarching goal of this course is to develop the skills needed to orchestrate a successful renewable energy endeavor, taking into account time, cost, social, logistical and technological constraints.
Students will be graded on homework assignments, class participation, presentations and a final report. This course will be integrated with and requires co-enrollment in Impact Investing and Islands: Energy, Economy and Community.
COURSE LEVEL: Advanced. PREREQUISITES: Instructor Permission and at least one of the following: Math and Physics of Sustainable Energy (preferred), Energy Practicum, Financials, Business Nonprofit Basics, Sustainable Strategies or Launching a New Venture. CLASS LIMIT: 10 COA students and 5 Islanders. LAB FEE: none. MEETS THE FOLLOWING DEGREE REQUIREMENTS: ES
ES515Our Daily Bread: Following Grains Through The Food System
The aim of the course is to use wheat, oats and rye as a lens to explore how a wide range of factors including history, changing land use patterns, crop development, human nutrition, food processing, sensory evaluation, and socio-economic factors shape how grains are grown, harvested and ultimately transformed into our daily bread. This field-based course seeks to provide students with deep insights into the past and current production of grains in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. Extensive readings will complement the summer fieldwork at farms, mills, bakeries and research sites in Europe, and will provide students with the agronomic background necessary for a historical view of grain production and the possibility of localized grain within the current global economy. Students will lead discussions, interview farmers, write short synthetic essays, and undertake a research project designed together with the class. By the end of the course students should be able to: Evaluate the importance of wheat and other temperate grains to the feeding of human populations in past, present and future contexts; Review current and traditional methods of evaluation of food quality and grain processing (bread production in particular) and relate these to modern nutritional problems; Describe the growth cycle of wheat in general terms and relate the production cycle to current issues of sustainability including greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration, energy requirements, and soil conservation; and Compare and contrast the socio-economic importance of wheat to Maine, Germany and the UK. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Formal application, Signature of the instructor, Introductory German highly desirable, any of the following courses: Theory and Practice of Organic Gardening, Chemistry of Cooking, The Contemporary Culture of Maine Organic Farmers, Agroecology. *ES*
ES517Tutorial: Science and Ethics
Scientific research has been at the center of many recent debates over issues of ethics, both in terms of the actual practice of science and also in the implications of the outcome of certain types of research. Many of these debates have proved to be highly polarized, with one side arguing that unfettered research is an important ingredient of progress, while other participants call for ever greater "societal" supervision and decision-making over both what is to be studied and how the results of studies are to be interpreted and applied. This tutorial will examine the role of ethics in scientific discourse, both in terms of how scientists see their own practice and how that practice is perceived and examined by other disciplines and society at large. The tutorial is discussion-based with students meeting with the instructor on a weekly basis to discuss extensive readings.
ES519Tutorial: Advanced Evolutionary Ecology Seminar
This advanced seminar takes a topic within evolutionary ecology and examines it using a wide range of sources staring with classic evolutionary texts and moving forward to current primary literature. Students need to be capable of reading and critiquing primary literature, understanding statistical tests of hypotheses, and be ready to move among diverse taxonomic groups and theoretical work. Readings include papers in evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, and life-history theory. The seminar will meet twice weekly. Assessment will be based on student participation in the seminar and multiple short writing assignments. Level: Advanced, Permission of Instructor required, Class Limit: 5
ES522Tutorial: Advanced Marine Resource Policy Seminar
This advanced tutorial brings together professors, students, and individuals from outside the college to discuss current issues in marine resource policy. Working with individuals from the Penobscot Bay Resource Center as well as others with knowledge of marine resource policy, the goal of this seminar is to examine one specific topic each year of the seminar and produce a policy white paper summarizing the findings and conclusions of the group that will be made publicly available. The initial goal is to have 2-4 professors, 1-5 students, and 2-4 individuals from outside the institution research current information on a topic, potentially conduct their own research, and apply meta-analyses or other appropriate analytical tools to the collected data and write a summary document that can help inform the management of marine resources. The group will typically meet twice per week, with additional meetings of subgroups throughout the term. Because the topic of the seminar changes between years, students may take this seminar for multiple years for credit. Pre-requisites: Background in environmental policy and biology. Permission required. Class limit: 5
ES525Applied Amphibian Biology
Most amphibians are small vertebrates that require moist microhabitats and/or unrestricted access to fresh water to sustain their populations. Despite their diminutive size, need for moisture, and cryptic habits, the 6000+ species of extant amphibians are found on all continents except Antarctica and are extremely diverse in their morphology, ecology, and behavior. Amphibian diversity peaks in tropical regions but salamanders are thought to be the numerically dominant vertebrate species in mature forest habitats of the eastern US. Because their combined numbers represent a significant amount of living biomass, amphibians are increasingly being used as bio-indicators to assess the ecological health of natural communities. Worldwide declines in anuran populations are well documented but the underlying cause(s) of these declines are still not fully known nor is the impact of these losses on the short- and long-term stability of the environments in which they live. In this course, students will examine amphibians native to Maine and to Costa Rica in order to compare and contrast the life history, ecology, and conservation of temperate and tropical species. Coursework during the regular term will focus on current field methods and data analysis used to assess species abundance and distribution through readings and field work, with the first half of the term devoted to Maine species and the latter half examining neotropical species. This will be followed by a mandatory 10-day field trip to Tirimbina Rainforest reserve in Costa Rica, where students will conduct their own field study on a topic relevant to the course. Level: Advanced. Permission of Instructor. Lab Fee $775 (Note: students who enroll in both Applied Amphibian Biology and Neotropical Conservation Ecology pay a single lab fee). *ES*
ES526Neotropical Conservation Ecology
The neotropics have been at the center of conservation research and policy for more than half a century. In spite of an enormous amount of effort however many issues remain unresolved and debate continues on appropriate strategies for protecting both the vast array of plants and animals present in the region and the livelihood of the peoples dependent on a broad range of agriculture and industry. This class will examine a range of issues dealing with the botany and zoology of Central America with a primary focus on issues affecting conservation strategies and sustainable utilization of the rainforest. Work during the regular term will consist of extensive readings and discussions of the primary literature, with particular attention to the research efforts of pioneers such as Daniel Janzen, Alexander Skutch, etc. This will be followed by a mandatory ten day field trip to the Tirimbina Rainforest reserve in Costa Rica, where students will have the opportunity to conduct their own research on issues of biodiversity, behavior, and ecology. Level: Advanced. Permission of Instructor. Lab fee: $775. *ES* Note: Students who enroll in both Neotropical Conservation Ecology and Applied Amphibian Biology pay a single lab fee.
ES529Environmental Chemistry: Air
Living things are exposed to air more than any other material, and yet many people seldom give a second thought to whats in air, why its there, how it behaves or what it may do them and to other living things. This class will examine such questions. Well start by looking at how the molecular structures of materials determine how much they vaporize and what consumes them when vaporized - and how their atmospheric levels reflect those competing processes. Well then apply such knowledge to understanding phenomena such as the pressure and temperature structures of the atmosphere, global weather patterns, the earths ozone layer, urban smog, acid deposition, the earths greenhouse effect and indoor air pollution. For each topic, we will discuss: Why is it important? Why is there as much of it as there is? What can increase it or decrease its amount? How have people tried to control it? What do we still not understand about it? Readings will be from both a text and from papers from the scientific literature. Evaluations will be based on problem sets for each topic and on the design (but not actual construction) of a museum exhibit addressing some air quality issue. Some background in basic chemistry is desirable but not essential. Level: Intermediate. *ES*
ES532Introduction to Linear Algebra
Through the study of linear algebra in this course, students will acquire powerful analytic techniques that are essential tools in almost any field of applied mathematics, including: physics, engineering, computer science, economics. Linear algebra is also commonly used in chemistry and mathematical biology. Our study of linear algebra will begin by abstracting and formalizing the idea behind solving familiar systems of linear equations. This will lead us to the study of matrices and determinants. We will study these mathematical objects both algebraically and geometrically, leading up to a general treatment of linear vector spaces. Additional topics covered will include: linear transformations; inner products and orthogonality; eigenvectors, eigenvalues, and their application. Where possible, applications to students' fields of interest will be emphasized. Students will leave this course with a solid foundation in the key ideas and techniques of linear algebra. Evaluation will be based on class participation and weekly problem sets. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Signature of Instructor. *QR*
ES534Plants with Mettle
The course deals with the biology and applied ecological aspects of a unique flora, the metallophytes. Metallophytes are plants that are tolerant of and restricted to areas that are high in heavy metals, either naturally or due to anthropogenic activities. We will discuss a wide range of topics relating to metallophytes including natural history, phytogeography, systematics, physiology, evolution, ecology, and how these plants may help us clean vast and growing areas of heavy metal contaminated sites found all over the world. You will become involved in research at two heavy metal-rich sites in Hancock County - nickel and chromium-rich on Deer Isle and the copper, zinc-rich Callahan Mine in Harborside, ME. Both sites offer excellent opportunities to examine the role extreme soil conditions play in generating and maintaining plant diversity as well as examine the potential for phytoremediation. The course is directed at students with interests in plants, their environment and green technologies. Evaluations are based on a mid-term exam, a group project, and a final class presentation. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: an intermediate or advanced course in botany or the consent of the instructor. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $30. *ES*
ES539Introduction to Computer Science
This course is an intensive introduction to computer science for students with little or no programming experience. The primary goal for this course is to provide students with a solid foundation in Python, a modern, high-level, object-oriented programming language. A secondary goal is for students to gain an initial introduction to algorithmic approaches to interdisciplinary problem-solving. Constructing effective software involves considerable creativity and judgment, and there are general theoretical principles and practical considerations that inform and guide this construction. Students will gain an introduction to these general principles and will also gain experience applying these principles to practical problems. Students who successfully complete this class will: gain a solid, practical understanding of the core python language, including control statements, functions, simple data structures, and input/output; learn how to extend their knowledge of python or other languages; develop good programming techniques; and be able apply algorithmic thinking and programming skills to areas of their interest. This course is designed for students interested in using programming in a wide range of areas, including as a tool for research in biology, economics, statistics, and other mathematical sciences. Additionally, this class will help prepare students to write web applications or applications for mobile devices. This course is also well suited for students who do not have a particular area of programming application in mind, but who simply wish to experience the challenge and excitement of designing and implementing algorithms. Evaluation will be based on weekly programming exercises and a final programming project. Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: none. Lab Fee: none. Class size: 12. *QR* *ES*.
ES540Plant Communities of the Americas
Plant communities consist of distinct assemblages of plant species which interact with each other as well as with other biotic and abiotic elements of their environment. Plant communities vary both spatially and temporally and are generally distinguishable by their overall appearance based on species present, as well as their size, abundance, distribution relative to one another, and species-interactions. The study of plant communities has contributed much to ecological and evolutionary theory and provided insight for conservation in light of climate change and other stressors impacting native plants and their communities in every region of the Americas. The course introduces you to the stunning geographic patterns of plant diversity across the Americas with respect to climatic, topographic, and edaphic gradients. We will explore major plant communities of the temperate, Mediterranean and tropical regions of the Americas, including grasslands, rock outcrops, deserts, chaparral, wetlands, boreal forests, and rainforests, focusing on key species which characterize these communities, their functional traits, and other aspects of their ecology. Readings will include topics on plant morphology and diversity, ecophysiology, population biology, community ecology, evolutionary ecology, and conservation. Evaluations are based on class participation, weekly readings and their presentation, and a final paper and its presentation. Offered every other year. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Pre-requisite: Trees and Shrubs of MDI, Plant Morphology and Diversity, Plant Physiological Ecology, History of Life, Biogeography, or Ecology (at least one). Class limit: 20. Lab fee: $25. *ES*
ES543The Nature and Language of Mathematics
The Nature and Language of Mathematics is an introductory course designed to help students discover the connections between mathematics and other areas of human understanding. It is intended primarily for students with limited prior math experience. By exploring diverse mathematics topics, students will see the varied roles that mathematics play in our world. Topics covered will depend on student interest, and may include the following: graph theory, probability, estimation, logic, and linear equations. The majority of in-class work will take place in small groups, allowing students to be active, engaged learners. In addition, students will read several articles, and possibly a popular book or historical or sociological treatment of mathematics or mathematicians. Through this course, the student will be encouraged to understand the patterns, language, and logic that underlies what we call mathematics. Evaluation will be based on class participation and group work, weekly projects and assignments, and a final paper or project. Students may also be asked to present their research topic orally. Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor. *QR*
ES545Electric Vehicles: A Hands-on Introduction
There is a growing agreement that electrifying the transport sector is an essential part of any set of actions sufficient to avoid catastrophic climate change. In this course, students will gain a hands-on introduction to electric vehicles. This class will center around building a small electric car using the SUNN Electric Vehicle kit. The resulting car, which is legal for use on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, will be used jointly by College of the Atlantic and the Seal Cove Auto Museum. The project will involve every aspect of assembling, testing, and painting a small electric car. Throughout the term students will learn about electric vehicle history, technology, current events and different electric vehicle initiatives. Most of the class time will be hands-on activities necessary to complete the project. However, there will also be assigned readings followed by group discussions and some reflective and analytic writing assignments. Students in the class will give an end-of-term presentation about their project. Depending on student interest, this presentation may be geared toward high school and middle school students, or policy makers and planners. Students who successfully complete this class will: gain an increased understanding of how electric vehicles work and some of the technical, social, and economic challenges that hinder their widespread adoption; basic mechanical skills and an understanding of electronics; and experience working collaboratively on a time-intensive project. Evaluation will primarily be based on active and full participation in all aspects of the project; students will also be evaluated on several short writing assignments. There are no pre-requisites for the course; students of all backgrounds and interests are welcome. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Class limit: 6. Lab fee: $50.
Hydrology is the science that studies the movement, distribution and quality of water resources throughout the Earth. Water is an essential component to life on Earth. Changes to our Earth System affect the distribution and quality of water resources and can have profound effects on adjacent and embedded systems. In this class we will look at how freshwater systems function and how perturbations result in changes. Field studies and laboratory analyses will help students develop a complete understanding of the physical and chemical processes that influence freshwater resources, with a particular emphasis on activities on and near Mount Desert Island. Field trips will include monitoring and measuring water quantity and quality at several locations around MDI in conjunction with United States Geological Survey: Water Division data. In addition we will visit public utilities such as water treatment and wastewater treatment facilities on the island. These field studies and field trips will help link natural processes and human activities that place demands on water resources. This course combines hands-on experiential learning and group participation with independent work in the primary literature. Students will have opportunities to develop and design term projects to investigate specific areas of interest. Students will be evaluated on their participation in class discussion of the readings, problem sets, field studies and projects. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: A college-level course in chemistry or geology is helpful but not required. Lab Fee $50. *ES*
This course is aimed at those interested in exploring the taxonomy of non-woody plants of New England and learning the science of plant systematics. Lectures will cover aspects of taxonomy and topics of systematics, including botanical nomenclature, methods and principles of plant systematics, classification systems of flowering plants, recent advances in molecular systematics, plant mating systems, plant evolutionary processes, phylogenetic relationships of flowering plants, and herbarium specimen preparation and database management. Laboratories will introduce students to approximately 30 plant families of the region including species-rich families such as Asteraceae, Poaceae, and Cyperaceae. Students participate in this course for one academic year and receive one credit. This course will meet once a week, 3 hrs, in both Fall and Spring terms for lectures and labs. Students will be expected to commit to a week of collecting and preserving plant specimens with the instructor in the late Spring OR Summer prior to Fall, as well as independent work in Winter. Evaluations are based on the identification and preparation of 50 plant specimens belonging to at least 25 plant families and a 30-minute oral presentation of a final project. Level: Advanced. Pre-requisites: Trees and Shrubs of MDI and Plant Taxonomy OR Plant Communities of the Americas. Instructor permission required. Class limit: 10. Lab fee: $30.*ES*
ES559Tutorial: Theory and Applications of Complex Networks
Network structures are ubiquitous in the world around us: communication networks, transportation networks, networks of friends and acquaintances, and biological networks, to name just a few. In this tutorial students will learn about the mathematical similarities and abstractions that under-lie these examples. Additional examples may be drawn from molecular biology (gene regulation and protein interaction networks), economics (trading networks, relations among firms, and strategic interactions on networks), computer science (computer networks and the world wide web), and ecology (food webs), depending on students' interests. The last decade has seen an explosion of work in the theory and applications of networks to an enormously wide range of problems. Students who successfully complete this tutorial will: gain a broad introduction to recent work in this field; understand the strengths and weaknesses of network approaches; and be able to apply networks and network analysis in a variety of settings. In addition to learning about networks, a central goal of this tutorial is for students to gain skills necessary for research in the mathematical, natural, and social sciences. This includes conceptualizing and framing a research question, conducing a literature review, presenting results in a professional-style research talk, and writing up results in a style appropriate for publication. In the first part of the course we will focus on empirical descriptions of network structure, including algorithms for discovering communities or clusters. We will then turn our attention to dynamics of networks: how do networks form and grow, and how are these growth rules related to global structure? Finally, as time permits we will consider dynamics of processes that occur on networks. Evaluation will be based on participation in seminar-style class meetings, several short problem sets, and a project on a topic of the student's choosing. Level: Advanced. Pre-requisite
ES561Sustainable Material Design
This course will look at designing safe, environmentally friendly materials from renewable resources. With a focus on polymers, we will delve into how one would begin the practice of developing a new product from initial raw material selection through processing/fabrication and into its afterlife as new material. Students will learn in-depth aspects of the chemical structure-property relationship of renewably sourced polymers (plastics), like natural rubber, starch/cellulose, poly(lactic acid), and poly(hydroxyalkonates). We will also examine the recent expansion of biorefineries and microbial fermentation as a means for the production of biobased commodity chemicals. By the end of the course, students should be able to evaluate target applications for renewably sourced materials and understand their potential human health and socioeconomic impacts. Chemical structures will be presented; therefore students will be expected to learn small portions of organic chemistry throughout the course. Evaluations will be based on class participation, a mid-term examination, and a final report and poster presentation. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Chemistry I; a general course in economics concurrently or prior to enrollment will also be helpful. Class Limit: 20 Lab fee: $20. *ES*
ES563Costa Rican Natural History and Conservation
This team-taught, intensive, field-based course examines the ecology and biotic diversity found at several sites within Costa Rica and the implications of this diversity on concepts of conservation biology. Whereas primary emphasis will be placed on Central American herpetofauna and avifauna, we will also discuss and examine issues of botanical, mammalian, etc. diversity and abundance, and the significance of the full array of species in more general studies of land-use and protective strategies. Students will meet during the winter term to discuss a range of articles and book-chapters dealing with aspects of conservation biology and Costa Rican natural history and culture during the winter term but the major emphasis of the course will be a two-week immersion in key habitats within Costa Rica itself during the March break. Non-travel days will consist of early to late-morning fieldwork, afternoon lectures/presentations followed by early evening to late night fieldwork. The course is based out of three field sites: lowland Caribbean slope rainforest at Tirimbina ecological reserve in north central Costa Rica, montane forest of the Arenal and Tenorio volcanic region, and Pacific slope dry forest of the Nicoya Peninsula. Evaluation will be based on detailed field journals, course participation, and a series of examinations testing student?s knowledge of species and concepts. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Course fee $1000.00 (covers food, transport and lodging in Costa Rica, students provide airfare to Costa Rica). Class limit: 15. *ES*
ES574Tutorial: Applied Atmospheric Science
This tutorial is designed to give participants a general overview of atmospheric science and to allow each student to focus on a topic of interests such as climate, meteorology or agriculture. The first half of the term will be spent reading through the 1st 8 chapters of Lutgen & Tarbuck’s The Atmosphere to gain general background knowledge. The students will meet as a group once a week and with the instructor once a week to discuss the reading of the text and to work though the end-of-chapter questions. For the 2nd half of the term, students will find and read additional material pertinent to their individual interests and the group will meet with the instructor once a week to share what the students are learning. Each student will do and present a final project in their area of focus. The students will be evaluated on their preparation for and participation in the weekly meetings and on the depth, originality and level of understanding of their final projects.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: permission of instructor. Class limit: 5. Lab fee: none.
Industrial ecology examines the relationships between the production of material goods and the effect this process has on humans and the environment. We will systematically examine the process of material production from extraction, processing, production, distribution, and consumer use by quantifying material and energy flows through every step of the cradle to grave process. Students will examine their own carbon footprint as a small-scale model for understanding the complex balance between satisfying human needs and wants. We will also cover a variety of topics that in addition to life cycle assessment will help supplement our definition of a sustainable relationship between industry and the environment. These topics may include a survey of environmental concerns, aspects of risk assessment, survey of relevant policies and practices, and examination of industrial symbiosis. The course can be taken as a standalone introduction to the engineering and process of the materials pipeline or as a two term planning and practice course when coupled with Sustainable Material Design (ES561). Evaluations will be based on student participation, homework, and two projects.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: None. Class Limit: 15. Lab Fee: $15. *ES*
ES576Tutorial: Dynamical Systems
This course is a survey of dynamical systems, the field of applied mathematics that studies systems that change over time. The modern study of dynamical systems includes examining particular systems or areas of application, as well as looking at systems more broadly and abstractly to develop generally applicable tools for studying dynamical systems or to classify different sorts of behavior.
This course is intended for motivated students with strong math backgrounds who wish to gain an overview of dynamical systems and to discuss and debate the insights the study of dynamical systems holds for the physical, natural, and social sciences. Using both differential equations and difference equations as our main items of study, we will cover standard topics in dynamical systems, including phase space, bifurcation diagrams, chaotic behavior, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, strange attractors, embedding and attractor reconstruction, and Lyapunov exponents. A central theme that emerges from the study of dynamical systems is that there is a subtle relationship between order and disorder. Unpredictable behavior can arise from deterministic dynamical systems, and complex behavior can have simple origins. We shall see that predictability and unpredictability, simplicity and complexity, and order and disorder are not opposites, but often exist simultaneously in the same dynamical system. Evaluation will be based on participation in seminar-style class sessions, problems sets, and a final project and presentation.
Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: Calculus II and permission of instructor. Experience writing simple computer programs (in any language) will be helpful, but not required. Class size: 5. Lab fee: none
ES580Climate and Weather
ES581South American Earth Systems
ES588Topics in Biomedical Research
ES591Practicum in Renewable Energy
ES597Tutorial: Mineralogy and Petrology
HE1010Human Ecology Core CourseHuman Ecology is the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between humans and their natural and cultural environments. The purpose of this course is to build a community of learners that explores the question of human ecology from the perspectives of the arts, humanities and sciences, both in and outside the classroom. By the end of the course students should be familiar with how differently these three broad areas ask questions, pose solutions, and become inextricably intertwined when theoretical ideas are put into practice. In the end, we want students to be better prepared to create your own human ecology degree through a more in depth exploration of the courses offered at College of the Atlantic. We will approach this central goal through a series of directed readings and activities.
Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $25. Meets the following degree requirements: HE
HS148Philosophy of Science
This course examines both the nature of science and its role in molding the modern world. The historic origins of science are explored from the late middle ages through the 18th century, in order to present clearly the development of key concepts and to contrast science with other views of the world it displaced. Particular attention is paid to the work of Galileo and Newton. General issues covered include theory formation, laws, confirmation and evidence, reductionism, determinism and teleology. Philosophical problems raised by such areas as evolution theory, quantum mechanics, feminist theory, and modern cosmology provide additional topics as interest dictates and time permits. Level: Intermediate. Offered occasionally. Class limit: 20. *HS*
HS320The Human Ecology of Wilderness
Wilderness has been the clarion call for generations of environmentalists. Henry David Thoreau once said, "In wildness is the preservation of the world." That single sentence and the controversy surrounding that idea provides the central focus of our explorations over the term. This course examines the question of wilderness from multiple perspectives in the hopes of providing an understanding of the concept and real spaces that constitute wilderness. Starting with a week-long canoe trip down Maine's Allagash Wilderness Waterway, we look at historical and contemporary accounts of the value of wilderness, biological, and cultural arguments for wilderness, and the legal and policy difficulties of "protecting" wilderness. Considerable time is spent evaluating current criticisms of the wilderness idea and practice. Students are involved in a term-long project involving potential wilderness protection in Maine. This involves some weekend travel and work in the Maine Woods. Classwork emphasizes hands-on projects as well as theoretical discussions. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Introduction to the Legal Process, Signature of instructor. Class limit: 14. Lab fee: $200. *HS*
HS4026Environmental Law and Policy
HS4042Reading the WestThe spectacular range of habitats between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Basin and Sonoran Deserts has generated some of the most significant “place based” writing within American literature. In this intensive field-based course students will be required to read a range of materials dealing with key places, people, and events in the western landscape during the summer prior to the formal start of the course. The class will then convene in California and begin a trek eastwards into the Great Basin Desert, south to the Carson/Iceberg Wilderness, Yosemite, the Hetch Hetchy Valley and Mono Lake, and then finally southeastward across the Sonoran desert to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where students and faculty will participate in a conference celebrating the first 50 years of the Wilderness Act. Readings will include work by Muir, Didion, Steinbeck, and Fremont. Evaluation will consist of class participation, a series of essays and journal essays, and a final term paper that will be completed following the end of the field portion of the course. This course will be integrated with and requires co-enrollment in Ecology and Natural History of the American West, and Wilderness in the West.
Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor; camping/backpacking ability. Class limit: 9. Lab fee: $1500. Meets the following degree requirements: HS
HS4043Wilderness in the West: Promise and ProblemsWilderness has been the clarion call for generations of environmentalists. In a letter in support of the Wilderness Act, writer Wallace Stegner characterized the importance of wilderness as an essential “part of the geography of hope.” That single phrase and the current controversy surrounding the concept of wilderness provide the central focus of our explorations of wilderness in western lands. This course examines the question of wilderness from multiple perspectives in the hopes of providing an understanding of both the concept and real spaces that constitute wilderness. Through conversations with wilderness managers, field work, and experience in federally designated wilderness areas in National Parks, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges and on BLM lands, the course will also examine what “wilderness management” means on the ground in the varied landscapes of the western United States. In this context, we look at historical and contemporary acco unts of the value of wilderness, ecological and cultural arguments for wilderness, and the legal and policy difficulties of "protecting" wilderness. Considerable time is spent evaluating current criticisms of the wilderness idea and practice. The class will culminate at a week-long national conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Conference provides an incomparable opportunity for students to hear from and interact with federal management agencies, academics, recreation experts, and environmental advocacy organizations. Presenting their final course work at this conference will also give students an opportunity to share their ideas and to receive valuable feedback from this sophisticated and well-informed audience of wilderness experts. Classwork emphasizes hands-on service-learning projects as well as reading, writing, and theoretical discussions. Students will be evaluated on journal entries, contributions to the class discussions, response papers, engagement in field activities, questions in the field, and contributions to group work. This course will be integrated with and requires co-enrollment in Reading the West and Ecology and Natural History of the West.
Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Ecology, Our Public Lands, and permission of instructor and concurrent enrollment. Class limit: 9. Lab fee: none. Meets the following degree requirements: HS
HS782Tutorial: Advanced Seminar in Human Ecology
The purpose of this tutorial is to review the many uses of the term ?human ecology?. It begins with an historical review of the academic and intellectual origins of human ecology. From these foundations, we proceed through the development of more interdisciplinary approaches to human ecology --- working with primary source materials (e.g., books, articles, position papers, academic program descriptions and related documents). We will further explore the activities of various regional, national and international associations and the aims of leading educational institutions. Assignments and discussions will revolve around several current problems that face human ecology. In particular, we will focus on: various theoretical controversies within and between biological and human ecology; issues and proposed methods of inter-disciplinary problem-solving, planning and application; and the growth of professional opportunities in human ecology worldwide. Evaluations will be based on careful reading and review of assigned materials, participation in discussions, individual papers and a collaborative group project. Level: Advanced; Permission of instructor required; Class limit: 3 Permission of instructor required.
This course is designed for science students developing their research skills working on research projects for a principal investigator; specifically this course will improve the students' writing ability and introduce them to writing for the scientific community. The course involves not only learning to write an abstract and literature review but also understanding the protocols for writing a scientific paper based on lab or field data. In addition, students will prepare a power point presentation on their research to present at a meeting or conference such as the Maine Biological Science Symposium or the annual INBRE meeting. In addition to working with the instructor, students will work on the content of their writing with the principal investigator. Offered every other year. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Signature of instructor. Class limit: 12. Lab fee: $20. *W*
Climate change is one of the largest and most difficult challenges faced by contemporary societies. The challenge has multiple facets: environmental, social, political, economic - each with its own complexities. This course focuses primarily on the social, political and economic components of the climate problem, framed by the concept of climate justice. In the introductory section of the course students are introduced to basic conceptions of justice, the latest findings of climate science and possible impacts on regional scales, as well as the ongoing intergovernmental climate negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The main body of the course is dedicated to understanding the concept and implementation of climate justice: how the costs of climate change impacts and efforts to address climate change could or should be distributed between rich and poor, global north and global south, and what are the possible means whereby those costs might be collectively addressed through an intergovernmental agreement. Students will be evaluated based on regular quizzes, several short papers, class participation, and a final synthetic paper or project. Level: Introductory. Lab fee: $10. *HS*
HS896Fieldworking in Guatemala: Seminar in Community-Based Research
MD033Biology Through the Lens
Photography is one of the primary means through which scientific observation and research is conducted and presented to the public. The most provocative images of the natural world don't just happen; they are made by individuals skilled in both photography and the life sciences. In this course, students will develop technical, observational, and aesthetic skills to extract relevant information from the natural world and organisms collected from nature. Through acquired skills, students will be expected to conceive methods to document the biological world and communicate concepts using strong visual imagery. Photographic techniques and historical examples will be learned and applied. Students will be evaluated based on their successful completion of a series of project-based assignments, participation in discussions and critiques, and their ability to effectively convey biological principles through photography. Pre-requisite: at least one introductory-level biology course and one photography course or permission of instructor. Students will be expected to provide their own camera for the course; a digital camera with interchangeable lenses is recommended. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 12. Lab fee: $95.00.
MD042Humans in Place: Natural/Cultural History of Maine's Islands
This intensive field-based course is an interdisciplinary examination of the changing relationship between humans and landscape in a region where people have lived continuously for several thousand years: the eastern Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy. The Gulf of Maine?s vast archipelago of islands is the setting for a wide range of both human and non-human communities. This is one of the richest areas of biological productivity in eastern North America and its fisheries have supported human cultures since pre-Columbian times. Sitting on the intersection between cold northern currents and the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, the region provides feeding and breeding grounds for a broad range of species from both arctic and tropical regions. For example, the Gulf provides breeding habitat for more than half of all seabirds nesting in eastern North America, and is also a critical feeding area for the endangered Right Whale and many other marine mammals. In this course we will study historical and current relationships among human cultures, fisheries, seabirds, and marine mammals, focusing on the feedbacks that change or preserve human cultures and economies. These case studies will serve as a model for understanding other land/seascapes, including the home regions of participants. The class will be team-taught by faculty from three colleges within the EcoLeague, and supported by several guest speakers. Two students from each EcoLeague institution will be selected to participate. The bulk of the course will be based on three sites: the College of the Atlantic?s two field stations on Great Duck Island and Mt. Desert Rock, and Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Course begins August 18th, ends on September 8th in Bar Harbor, ME. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: Ecology and/or Natural History, and at least one other course in interdisciplinary environmental studies/human ecology, and permission of EcoLeague faculty panel through written application p
MD043Penguins to Polar Bears: Journeys Across the Ice
This course is a general introduction to the Arctic and Antarctica. We will begin by examining the unique ecologies of the polar regions by reviewing the life histories of some iconic polar creatures - Polar bear, Arctic tern, Emperor penguin and others. This ecological framework will provide a backdrop for our review of the history of exploration in these harsh regions. The search for the Northwest Passage and the quest for the Poles captured western attention for hundreds of years, and the stories of hardship, heroism, absurdity, and sheer luck are compelling. The course concludes with an examination of the human ecology of both poles - politics, resource exploitation, tourism and the rapid climate changes affecting both regions. Assessment will be based on classroom participation, several short papers, and an independent research project. Level: Introductory. Class limit: 15
MD1010Islands Through Time14,000 years of Human Ecology on the Coast of Maine
The coast of Maine is an ideal location for studies of the effects of changing ecologies, landscapes, and cultures on the human experience. 14000 years ago, the entire area was covered with a dense ice sheet, and at present we are facing the uncertain future of Global Warming. Between these points, the coast and islands have experienced flood, fire, earthquakes, and an enormous range of human and non-human occupants. This team-taught course will use the inter-disciplinary lens of Human Ecology to examine the consequences, implications, and potential meanings of our dwelling within both this particular landscape and other landscapes perhaps initially more familiar to students. A strong emphasis will be placed upon developing a "sense of place" through the examination of a novel, scientific writing, music, and experiential venturing upon the land and seas, learning about the history, culture, ecology, oceanography and geology of the Maine coastline, both in and by the ocean. Although a substantial element of each day's work will take the form of field trips, students will also be responsible for readings, attending a series of lectures by faculty and local experts, and working with multimedia forms. Interest in music, writing, and ecology are strongly encouraged. Students will be evaluated based on class participation, a daily log of their experiences plus several short "response pieces" to assigned readings, and a multi-media presentation capturing some aspect of their learning. Students will receive narrative evaluations and a grade of CREDIT or NO CREDIT.
Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Signature of Instructor.
MD1013Introduction to Farm Animal Management
MD5011Islands: Energy, Economy and CommunityThis course is focused on developing initiatives in the renewable energy and finance sectors on MDI and Maine Islands and is being offered in conjunction with the Island Institute and the Samsø Energy Academy in Denmark. This will be a comprehensive, intensive, interdisciplinary course. Students and community members from Maine’s Islands will learn from the Samsø Island experience of transforming to a carbon negative island through a community driven, grass-roots approach to create investment opportunities for both individuals and businesses in enterprises that developed and scaled, efficiency upgrades, wind, and solar power production and biofuel distributed heating and other elements of a renewable energy portfolio.
Three weeks of the term will be spent at Samsø’s Energy Academy learning the community process, investment and engineering strategies that the small rural farming and tourist community used to transform themselves into an independent energy community and rejuvenate their local economy. The course will push students to identify opportunities within their communities and develop significant energy related ventures accordingly. COA students and island resident participants will use this knowledge to develop plans for adapting and creating appropriate technology, investment platforms or services to reduce energy consumption and to boost renewable energy production here in Maine.
Students will be evaluated based on class participation, written assignments and verbal presentations. This course will be integrated with and requires co-enrollment in Impact Investing and Energy and Technology.
COURSE LEVEL: Advanced. PREREQUISITES: Instructor Permission and at least one of the following: Math and Physics of Sustainable Energy (preferred), Energy Practicum, Financials, Business Nonprofit Basics, Sustainable Strategies or Launching a New Venture. CLASS LIMIT: 10 COA students and 5 Islanders. LAB FEE: $500.
Environmental Science Faculty
- John G.T. Anderson
B.A. University of California, Berkeley
M.A. Ecology and Systematic Biology, San Francisco State University
Ph.D. Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island
» Course areas: anatomy and physiology, animal behavior, conservation biology, ecology, zoology
- Don Cass
B.S. Carleton College
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
» Course areas: chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, environmental chemistry
- Anna Demeo
» Course areas: electric vehicles, physics, mathematics, renewable energy
- Dave Feldman
B.A. Carleton College
Ph.D. Physics, University of California, Davis
» Course areas: calculus, physics, chaos and fractals, thermodynamics, complex networks and systems
- Sarah Hall
B.A. Hamilton College
Ph.D. Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz
» Courses taught: climate and weather, geology, mineralogy, Earth systems
- Helen Hess
B.S. University of California, Los Angeles
Ph.D. Zoology, University of Washington
» Course areas: biomechanics, history of life, invertebrate zoology
- Suzanne Morse
B.A., Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
» Course areas: agroecology, organic gardening, food systems, fermentation
- Chris Petersen
B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara
Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona
» Course areas: biology, evolution, ichthyology, marine ecology, marine policy, statistics
- Nishanta Rajakaruna
B.A. College of the Atlantic
M.Sc. Botany, Plant Ecology, The University of British Columbia
Ph.D. Botany, Evolutionary Ecology, The University of British Columbia
» Course Areas: field botany, plant taxonomy, plant evolutionary processes, ethnobotany
- Steve Ressel
B.S. Millersville University
M.S. Zoology, University of Vermont
Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut
» Course areas: general biology, vertebrate biology, herpetology, winter ecology, biological photography and imagery
- Scott Swann
B.A. Human Ecology, College of the Atlantic, 1985
M.Phil. College of the Atlantic, 1994
» Course areas: ecology of the winter coastline, natural history, ornithology
- Sean Todd
B.S. University College of North Wales (UK)
M.S. Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland
Ph.D. Biopsychology, Memorial University
» Course areas: biology, marine mammals, oceanography, sensory ecology, statistics