UMass Boston Launches Environmental Sciences Pilot Program on Nantucket
October 12, 2012
UMass Field Station Communications Team
This winter, the island of Nantucket will be a science laboratory for a group of 20 University of Massachusetts Boston students participating in a pilot program that offers courses for students studying the earth and ocean sciences.
Called "The Living Lab," the 16-credit semester offers students a customized curriculum focused on ecology and environmental sciences, as well as Nantucket history and culture. The courses offer a combination of classroom time, field research and lab techniques.
The semester runs from January 20 to April 20, 2013, and costs $6,950, which includes room and board at island lodging and restaurant establishments. The student application deadline for the program is October 19th. Robyn Hannigan, program director, will select the participants.
For more information on the 2013 Environmental Semester on Nantucket please contact Robyn Hannigan at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-287-4857.
To apply, please visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/NS13.
UMass Boston is investigating ways to use existing downtown spaces at island institutions and businesses to provide classrooms, housing and student meals. In addition, students will have field work and access to the UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station's laboratory, located off Polpis Road.
The program, led by UMass Boston's Environmental Earth and Ocean Sciences Department, is open to all environmental majors on campus. The department's chairperson, Robyn Hannigan, said part of the goal is to partner the students, and their research, with island people and institutions who can benefit from their findings.
One example, she said, is a program she is working on to "brand" the Nantucket Bay Scallop. The Nantucket Bay Scallop is a fragile creature living in a fragile environment. Changes in the ocean's temperature and acidity, along with sea level rise, will further threaten the scallop population. On top of that, Chinese scallop farmers are flooding the market with commercially grown scallops marketed as "Nantucket" scallops.
By testing the mineral content of a scallop shell, Hannigan has created a method for certifying that scallops are actually from Nantucket. That certification will allow Nantucket scallopers to brand their catch as authentic and help market the culinary delicacy.
Along with studying island scallops, the UMass students' research will take place in the island's open space, pristine waters and its diverse habitats. The pilot project is a joint effort between UMass Boston, the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, which is the island's largest owner of open space, and ReMain Nantucket.
The partners hope that the program will grow to be offered during the fall and spring semesters and include 100 to 200 undergraduate, and graduate students.
"...Nantucket is really extraordinarily valuable as a scientific resource with its rare habitats, the scallop beds, grasslands, everything," David Poor, Nantucket Conservation Foundation board chair said recently in an interview with the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror. "The question is, 'How do we get a higher level of science into it?," he said. The NCF's 9,000 acres of open space, including the 107 acre UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station, will be available to the students for research.
Although the focus is on the environmental sciences, the pilot project will also include some humanities courses and have a business focus as well, said Dr. Hannigan, who is a big proponent of scientific/business partnerships.The full credit courses will be taught in intensive three week cycles between January and May.
UMass Boston has offered summer college credit courses at the field station off and on since the late 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s UMass Boston also offered a program during the school year called the "Semester on Nantucket," which were classes in English and Nantucket History taught by Nantucket historian Edouard Stackpole, and UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station naturalists Clint Andrews and Wes Tiffney.