Islands Through Time: July 24–August 5, 2016

Program overview

Over the course of twelve days you will:

  • Immerse yourself in ecology, culture, and history of Downeast Maine, learning from an interdisciplinary perspective. You will study and explore oceanography, marine biology, field ecology, history, literature, writing, music, and media studies.
  • Spend several nights at the college’s two island field stations.
  • Visit whale feeding grounds, seal haul-outs, seabird colonies, and the rocky intertidal coastline.
  • Gain firsthand experience in data collection and research with whale and seabird experts at offshore island research stations.
  • Explore writing and literature with college professors while visiting the places you are reading about and honing your own writing skills.
  • Develop skills and potential in creative expression through music, video, or other media.
  • Work hard and challenge yourself, both intellectually and personally, through hands-on educational experiences, study, and reflection. 


The program begins with an introduction to the ecology and culture of Downeast Maine at College of the Atlantic’s seaside campus. Groups of students will rotate through a variety of activities and learning experiences, while individuals or smaller groups will participate in intensive tutorials.

The first few days of the course will focus on the marine ecology, literature, and the cultural history of the Maine coastline. Next, we will  journey to the college’s field stations on Mt. Desert Rock and Great Duck Island, sleeping in the islands’ light stations and experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of marine field research.

Returning to shore, we will explore the traditional livelihoods practiced by some of those who have made this coast their home and consider how the changing environment has shaped their experiences. Students will work on thought-provoking and rigorous academic assignments in multiple disciplines, expressing themselves through writing, music, and photography.

Throughout the course, students will work directly with College of the Atlantic faculty members, writing extensively about their experiences, and working as part of a team to develop a multimedia presentation to share with their professors, peers, and the public at the end of the session. This program is limited to 16 students.

3.3 semester credits

 2016 Rate

Tuition: $3,750 (limited financial aid available)


SFI Application Form (pdf)

Deadline: April 15, 2016