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Environmental Studies: New Major, Real-world Research

One of our first interdisciplinary programs gets its own stand-alone major

Global Vision:
A new major is rather worldly

Home and Away: Adirondack Semester
Our newest off-campus program is our nearest

Field Days: Integrated Science Education Initiative
Redefining how we teach the sciences

University Fellows Program
Student-professor partnerships open new horizons in learning

Alumni Accomplishments

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Home and Away: The Adirondack Semester
By Neal Burdick '72

students standing on Adirondack Mountain peakSt. Lawrence offers off-campus programs all over the world, from Kenya and Costa Rica to Japan and Washington, D.C. The University's newest program, being launched this fall, is its most proximate, operating less than an hour from Canton.

The main part of the program is based physically and educationally in a semi-remote camp in the Adirondacks, about 10 miles west of Tupper Lake. The 11 pioneer participants are immersing themselves in the physical and social culture of the Adirondacks and have agreed to-in fact, helped devise-policies prohibiting alcohol and individual vehicles and limiting the use of such appendages of the contemporary college student as radios and CD players.

students working in fieldThe program began with a 12-day backpacking excursion in the High Peaks region near Lake Placid. A similar expedition will end the semester, although for comparison purposes and to respond sensibly to December weather in the Adirondacks, the final expedition is in Arizona.

Asked how almost four months spent living in the Adirondacks will contribute to the participants' education, director Karl McKnight, biology, responds simply, "Part of the responsibility of those providing a liberal arts education is to create opportunities for intercultural study. It's a cultural immersion experience, where we define culture as the accumulated experiences of history, geography, ecology, lifestyle, philosophy and outlook, food customs, architecture and more," he says, noting that in many of these categories the Adirondacks are distinctive. Further, he states, the program has a four-course sequence that covers science, the arts, history and ethics, many of the courses involving extensive field work.

Adirondack Semester Courses
Natural History and Ecology of the Adirondacks (Karl McKnight, Biology) A field-oriented course emphasizing the natural history, ecology, geology, geography and climate of the Adirondacks, with special focus on flora and fauna, ecological concepts and astronomy.

Creative Expressions of Nature (Mary Husman, English, and Laura Fredrickson, Environmental Studies) A course to foster a deeper understanding of the affective and emotive qualities of person-nature interactions. Through hands-on creative workshops, studio visits, field trips and a series of focused readings and writing exercises, students will be actively encouraged to slow down, observe, reflect and embrace the personal connection that they have to the natural world.

Cultural History: Interpreting the Adirondacks (Neil Forkey, Canadian studies) A study of the cultural history of the landscape and its peoples, of conflict and compromise between human cultures, and of land management in America with the Adirondacks as a paradigm.

Ethics of Personal and Community Identity (Grant Cornwell '78, Philosophy) An opportunity to develop an understanding of the nature of ethics, to reflect on personal ethics, and to begin to develop and enrich an ethical life. The Adirondack Semester will provide an forum for appreciating and exploring a central idea of this course: when humans live together in a community, the happiness of each person depends on the actions of others, and ethical wisdom is necessary to make possible happiness for all."