Every September, students at the College of the Atlantic face a fundamental problem. Just as they're returning to classes at the Bar Harbor, Maine, campus, the herring gulls and Arctic terns are headed south. The harbor seals are gone, too.
That's not a good thing for a small liberal arts college (enrollment: 250) that focuses on environmental studies. So this summer for the first time it expanded its offerings from professional development classes to courses for its own undergraduates.
Many schools see summer programs mainly as a dollar generator. College of the Atlantic viewed them that way, too. But now it's also trying to create greater "intellectual continuity" on campus.
"This compliments our regular year curriculum," says Helen Hess, a biology professor who is directing the school's summer pilot program. "There are only certain times of year you can do things ... plants are only in flower in late June and you've got to be out there looking at them."
That resonates with senior John Woodward, who spent two weeks this summer 10 miles offshore on Great Duck Island, one of the school's new "laboratories." Clipboard in hand, he and seven other students prowled for rugosa rose and elusive pink lady slipper - earning credit for the intensive biology class. "I'm going to end up in early childhood education," he says. "So taking an entirely field-based science class was a great way for me to learn a lot of things that will excite kids."
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society