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Place-Based Education

Placed-based_educationLearning is never more relevant and timely than when it occurs in ones immediate surroundings.

The coursework supported by the Center relies heavily on immersive travel-based experiences. Students and faculty transcend the norm of education and are invigorated and inspired by this unique style of teaching and learning.


Chesapeake Bay WatershedBahamasCosta Rica
Coastal Studies

Throughout the world, approximately half of all people live in coastal regions; in the United States, nearly half of the population lives within 50 miles of an ocean or a Great Lake. And increasingly, coastal communities face enormous challenges as their social, economic and environmental resources are damaged or depleted.

Students in the cross-disciplinary coastal studies program—open to all students, not just science majors—are interested in addressing those challenges. Participants spend about a month traveling to marine field laboratories along the East Coast, stopping at each for two to three weeks to explore the unique coastal environments from scientific, literary, historical and cultural perspectives. Members of a learning expedition, students form a close-knit, motivated community seeking intellectual experiences, conscientious action and hands-on skills.

The program is offered in the fall, and five interrelated courses are also required for the semester. Interactions with scientists, authors and other environmental professionals in the region augment class discussions, laboratory investigations and fieldwork. An interdisciplinary research practicum weaves together scientific, historical and cultural threads to unify the semester-long experience. Students earn 16 to 17 semester hours of academic credit for the semester, with courses satisfying the Literature; Scientific Thought; and Society, Science and Technology requirements of the Core Curriculum for Hood students (students from other institutions should plan to transfer these credits to their home college or university). The semester plus at least one coastal studies field experience satisfies the requirements for a minor in Coastal Studies. Please visit www.hood.edu/coastal for more information about the semester and obtaining a Coastal Studies minor.

BIOL 348 – Tropical Marine Ecology

This course takes place at the Gerace Research Center (GRC, formerly the Bahamian Field Station) which is located on the shore of Graham’s Harbor on the north coast of San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Students will conduct a first-hand examination of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes of near shore tropical marine ecosystems. Environments such as corals reefs, sea grass beds, rocky intertidal, sandy beaches and mangrove swamps will be studied. Students will be involved in intensive fieldwork, readings and discussion, which will focus on interactions between the system’s biota and the physical and chemical parameters unique to the tropical western Atlantic Ocean.

During this course we will spend much of our time on, in or near the water. To be able to fully participate in all activities, you will need to be able to swim. We will do some snorkeling as a group (previous snorkeling experience is not necessary). We will not do any SCUBA diving, but you are welcome to make your own arrangements for this activity during your free time. A passport is required to enter and leave the Bahamas.

BIOL 345- NEOTROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY COSTA RICA

Is a field course in the basic principles and methodologies of natural history studies in a tropical environment. This course was co‐taught with a group of students and instructors from Garrett College. Topics included climates and ecosystems, rainforest structure and diversity, evolutionary patterns, coevolutionary complexities and the ecology of fruit, the neotropical pharmacy, land use in the neotropics, savannas and dry forests, mangroves and coral reefs, and deforestation and conservation of biodiversity. Field and lab activities focused on insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Students studied the taxonomy and ecology of each of these faunal groups and developed skills in locating, observing, handling, and field identification of common neotropical species.