Self-designed major… endless possibilities

Every COA student designs his or her own course of study in human ecology. Beyond a small core of degree requirements, there’s no set path. You give shape to your curriculum based on your interests and goals, exploring across multiple areas of study or digging deeper into a chosen focus.

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Why we take a different approach

In the words of faculty member Rich Borden: “There is a tendency, especially in the academic world, to carve life into ever smaller pieces in order to make sense of it. All too often, the people who do this come to believe that is how the world really is. The aim of human ecology is to remind us that we are part of a complex and interactive living world. Its broad mandate calls us to cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines and seek fresh combinations of ideas. This demands a different approach to education—one which invites imagination and caring for the future. This is why COA was founded, and it is what we do best.”

Stories from the academic community:

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    A Classroom Without Walls: The Great West Course

    Whether reading an account of the Tuolumne Meadows, volunteering in Yosemite National Park, or spending the weekend visiting a local ranching family, students in The Great West Course saw the American West in its own light—impossible to do from a classroom in Maine.

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    A Visit to the Fermentation Fair
    That smell of rotting cabbage on Cottage Street? It’s just somebody’s homework. And it’s not rotting. It’s coming to life.
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    Scouring the Waters: Chris Petersen’s Decades of Marine Biology
    As a researcher, Chris Petersen is focused on the reproductive behavior and biology of fish. He says. “I am, most of all, a behavioral ecologist, trying to understand why animals behave the way they do.”