Northeastern Section - 54th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 18-4
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


ERIKSON, Johan P., Sciences, Saint Joseph's College of Maine, 278 Whites Bridge Rd, Standish, ME 04084 and TEEGARDEN, Gregory J., Saint Joseph's College of Maine, 278 Whites Bridge Road, Standish, ME 04084

The Environmental Science Semester (ESS) at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine is a semester-length, off-campus field program designed for mid-level undergraduate students (second and third-year). The ESS currently consists of four geoscience and environmental science courses:
  • Climate Change & Glacial Geology was conducted primarily in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, in eastern Maine, and in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia;
  • Marine Ecology utilized the estuaries and marshes of coastal Maine and the beaches of Cape Cod;
  • for Oceanography, we sailed the coastal Gulf of Maine aboard a small schooner as our mobile classroom and lab;
  • components of Field Methods were concurrent with each of the other three courses.

The ESS is intended to enhance aspects of academic and personal growth relative to campus-based courses. Specific academic benefits include:

  • enhanced critical thinking skills;
  • greater concept retention;
  • more active, collaborative learning;
  • field work in diverse environments; and
  • greater synthesis of course topics.

Specific personal growth benefits include:

  • greater confidence;
  • elevated perseverance;
  • stronger student connectedness;
  • improved faculty-student interaction; and
  • sharper focus and motivation.

Three cycles of the ESS have occurred (2014, ’16, and ’18). A few patterns are emerging:

  • internal marketing via student-to-student communication has been excellent;
  • student communication has led to more realistic expectations of academic, physical, and interpersonal challenges;
  • approximately 60-80% of eligible students participate;
  • program alumni are remarkably enthusiastic even two and four years beyond completion.