Learning Communities Coastal Pathways: A Natural History of Cape Cod
"Cape Cod is the bared and bended arm of Massachusetts," wrote Henry David Thoreau in Cape Cod (1864), "behind which the State stands on her guard, with her back to the Green Mountains, and her feet planted on the floor of the ocean, like an athlete protecting her Bay..."
Cape Cod occupies a unique place in the history, literature, and cultural memory of New England: a stark landscape battered through the centuries by natural and human elements.
This Learning Community (LC) combines literary study and scientific inquiry to offer an in-depth, bioregional perspective on Cape Cod as a site of intense human-natural interaction.
Many of the major problems confronting society today are essentially ecological problems which have direct impact on animals, including humans - pollution, over-population, famine, water availability, disease epidemiology, etc.
Theme and Course Work
A central theme of this LC will be the unique cultural and environmental history of Cape Cod and the current status of the environment with respect to development, pollution, and conservation. Course work will consist of interpretive essays, exams, individual study, and group projects. Readings may include work by Henry David Thoreau, Henry Beston, Robert Finch, Mary Oliver, John Hay and others.
The Integrated Seminar consists of travel to Cape Cod (for about a week in May), a journey that may involve camping, hiking, and direct observation of nature, beginning right after enrolled students have completed their final exams. This LC allows students to complete a Natural Scientific Inquiry requirement along with the LC requirement.
- “Cape Cod is a place familiar to many of our students, but in this context the Cape becomes more than a "home town" or summer vacation spot; it becomes an engaging laboratory for the arts and sciences, a perfect setting in which to discuss sustainable design, biodiversity, or regional literature.” -- Dr. Todd Gernes
- "During this travel course, I love watching students rediscover their childhood enthusiasm for exploring nature -- tidal pools, salt marshes, cedar swamps, pitch pine woods. Inspired by that experience, students are led to consider the value of nature, recognizing the human impacts and determining what we ought to do to lessen those impacts." -- Dr. Sue Mooney