Unique Environmental Course: River Serves as Classroom and Lab for Professor from 22 Institutions

A literal boatload of environmentally-minded professors from 22 colleges, universities, and institutes will spend three weeks roughing it on the Hudson River and in an Adirondack field camp this summer. They will be doing scientific projects like taking water samples, but also will undertake literary analyses of famous writings about the river and will contemplate 19th century paintings by Hudson River School artists. Some will learn to find their way in the woods with GPS navigation satellites.

Contacts:
Rosemary Mercedes, Manager of Public Information, Pace University
212-346-1637, cell 914-424-3845, rmercedes@pace.edu
Michelle Land, Program Coordinator, Pace Academy for the Environment
914-773-3738 or mland@pace.edu

Note: Media will have access to the R/V Seawolf at various points on the Hudson River between July 7 and July 29. Media are also invited to meet faculty as they teach on land along the way. A schedule is available. Contact 212-346-1637 for more information.

BY BOAT AND ON FOOT, PROFESSORS FROM 22 CAMPUSES
TO TRY OUT UNIQUE COLLEGE COURSE
USING RIVER AS CLASSROOM AND LAB

Nation’s “first group of colleges and universities to organize around concerted environmental agenda”

Pleasantville, NY, June 28, 2005 — A literal boatload of environmentally-minded professors from 22 colleges, universities, and institutes will spend three weeks roughing it on the Hudson River and in an Adirondack field camp this summer. They will be doing scientific projects like taking water samples, but also will undertake literary analyses of famous writings about the river and will contemplate 19th century paintings by Hudson River School artists. Some will learn to find their way in the woods with GPS navigation satellites.

Their ambition is to personally pilot test, learn how to teach and eventually share with professors elsewhere a pioneering, multidisciplinary college-level curriculum that will help the next generation of students deal with the next generation of environmental issues.

The project is the first venture of what one expert calls “the first group of colleges and universities in the country to organize around a concerted environmental agenda.” The professor-tested course will be offered to 30 students from member institutions next summer.

Summer on the River. Thirty-six faculty members from 14 Consortium-member institutions will pilot the “River Summer” program from July 6 – 30. They will embark from Kingston on the R/V Seawolf, a research vessel operated by the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and use a field camp at the Huntington Forest Research Center near Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks.

The course curriculum will integrate history, law and the arts with natural and social science. Traveling and living together surrounded by the river’s landscape, ecosystem and culture, the faculty members will progress through modules covering the Adirondacks, the Upper, Mid and Lower Hudson, and New York Harbor. Their work also will focus on course development and interdisciplinary, multi institutional instruction.

A recent Pace Poll on the Environment underscored the need for a new approach to environmental education.

The professors will both take and teach courses including Riverscope Instrumentation for Near-Real Time Data Collection, The New Political Economy of the Hudson River Valley, GPS and Orienteering Exercises, Acoustic Survey in the Harbor, and Writing the Hudson.

River Summer 2006 will culminate with students writing a formal report to New York Governor George Pataki which will be submitted to a regional publication.

Multi-campus Coalition. Formed over the last 12 months under the leadership of the Pace Academy for the Environment (PAE), the new Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities (ECHVCU) consists of 36 institutions up and down the Hudson that have coalesced for teaching, research and advocacy projects they could not do separately.

The PAE is directed by John Cronin, who was the nation’s first Riverkeeper (on the Hudson) and is a Scholar in Residence at Pace University. Michelle Land, Program Coordinator of PAE, was appointed director of the Consortium in 2004. The PAE is playing a key organizational role in the Consortium and has collaborated closely with Stephanie Pfirman, Chair of the Barnard College Department of Environmental Science, and Tim Kenna, of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, on the development of River Summer.

River Summer 2005 is supported in part by a $76,000 grant to Barnard College from the Teagle Foundation and in part by the Rivers and Estuaries Center in Beacon, NY.

“This is the first group of colleges and universities in the country to organize around a concerted environmental agenda,” according to William Focht, a national authority on environmental education who is a professor of political science at Oklahoma State University. “It is a model for the rest of the nation.”

Focht is co-chair of the nation’s most significant national body on teaching environmental studies, the Curriculum Committee of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, which is associated with the Washington-based National Council for Science and the Environment.

Consortium Membership. The Consortium’s members include institutions upstate like RPI in Troy, those near the harbor like Columbia and Pace, eight units of the State University of New York, small private colleges like Vassar and religious schools like Fordham. (www.environmentalconsortium.org)

The current members are Bard College, Barnard College, Columbia University, CUNY – Queens College, Dominican College, Fordham University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Manhattanville College, Marist College, Marymount College of Fordham University, Mercy College, Mount Saint Mary College, College of Mount Saint Vincent, The College of New Rochelle, Pace University, Polytechnic University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Sage Colleges, The College of Saint Rose, Saint Thomas Aquinas College, Sarah Lawrence College, Siena College, SUNY – Columbia-Greene Community College, SUNY – Dutchess Community College, SUNY – New Paltz, SUNY – Orange County Community College, SUNY – Purchase College, SUNY – Rockland Community College, SUNY – Stony Brook, SUNY – Ulster County Community College, SUNY – University at Albany, SUNY – Westchester Community College, Union College and Vassar College.

A private university in the New York Metropolitan area, Pace has a growing national reputation for offering students opportunity, teaching and learning based on research, civic involvement and measurable outcomes. It is one of the ten founders of Project Pericles, developing education that encourages lifelong participation in democratic processes. Pace has seven campuses, including downtown and midtown New York City, Pleasantville, Briarcliff, White Plains (a graduate center and law school), and a Hudson Valley Center at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. Approximately 14,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, Lienhard School of Nursing and Pace Law School. www.pace.edu.

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