Spaced between coursework on campus, Chesapeake Semester students participate in four major “journeys” over the course of the semester. Each journey explores a specific theme.
Around the Chesapeake: A Sense of Place and History
This 9-10 day trip will provide an orientation to the geography, physical characteristics and history of the Chesapeake. In a clock-wise circuit starting in Chestertown, the trip will run down the Delmarva Peninsula to Cape Charles. En route to Williamsburg, the itinerary includes a stop in Newport News, Virginia to visit the Mariners Museum. Using Williamsburg as a home base for several days, students will explore the new discoveries at Jamestown, spend time behind the scenes in Colonial Williamsburg, visit a Tidewater plantation and explore the 17th and 18th century history of the area. En route to southern Maryland, the group will explore Maryland’s early history at Historic St. Mary’s City, with a stop to investigate the paleontology at Calvert Marine Museum, and neighboring Flag Ponds State Park where students can scour the shoreline for pre-historic sharks teeth. The class will move to Annapolis where they will take a walking history tour of the baroque planning of the State’s capitol, finishing at the head of the Bay at Havre de Grace. In addition to visiting several museums students will explore the Susquehanna Flats on the historic skipjack Martha Lewis before returning to campus.
Ridge to Ocean
From the mountains of West Virginia to the coastal bays of the Atlantic shoreline, this ecology-themed trip will spend 9-10 days crossing a series of contrasting environments. Using Shenandoah National Park as base camp students will hike through the foothills of Appalachia and canoe down the Shenandoah river for a slow-paced look at the ecology of a river valley. Moving east, the class will stop at Great Falls National Park to explore the unique geological formations that divide the mountains and the Piedmont before returning to Chestertown for a night. Finally back on the Eastern Shore, students will have stop-overs and adventures at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (kayaking in the marsh, exploring sea level rise and invasive species), the Horn Point Marine Laboratory (marine science and oyster recovery program). The trip will end on the Atlantic shore, examining coastal bays and dune formation, development pressures, and sea level rise. On the last full day of the journey, students will join Washington College faculty and staff at the annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival.
Issues & Management: Fisheries, Agriculture, Development & Policy
This itinerary is a collection of short trips, some for a day and others overnight. The objective is to explore some of the major environmental and political issues in the Chesapeake and examine the ways in which policy is made and succeeds or fails. In addition, students will go to work with a waterman, talk with representatives of the
Watermen’s Association, and explore a contrasting point of view from sport fishermen. Farming and the threats to a working landscape will be explored with visits to a large grain operation and a small truck farm; an intensive, 24/7 dairy operation and a small grass fed dairy farm; and a community supported agriculture (CSA) operation, as well as an experimental farm. Development pressures, one of the many threats to farms and water quality, will be examined with visits to Middletown, DE and Anne Arundel County, MD, along with discussions with local planning officials from Chestertown and Kent County. Once students have explored these three issues, they will go to Annapolis to explore the ways in which policies are made and administered. Organizations that may be visited include NOAA, the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, the Maryland Departments of Natural Resources and Environment, and, from the advocacy side, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Peru: A Contrast in Environments & Culture
The most productive marine ecosystem in the world—the Humboldt Upwelling off the coast of Peru—is the destination of the fourth Journey of the Chesapeake Semester. This comparative study to Peru builds upon the experiences, principles and theories investigated during the Chesapeake Semester, allowing comparisons with other ecosystems across the continent. While there are certainly noticeable differences in the ecology, socioeconomics, and cultures defining the Chesapeake Bay and the Peruvian systems, there are common themes, similarities, and essential analogues. These commonalities and differences will lead to thought provoking discussion and in depth analysis of the culture, history, context, and governance strategies being instituted in both locations. Which strategies are working in the Chesapeake that could be tailored for successful implementation in Peru and vice versa? Students will appreciate why this
system led to the earliest human settlements in the Americas and why global economies today rely on the Peruvian fisheries. The team from Washington College will work along side students and faculty from the Center for Environmental Sustainability of the Cayetano Heredia University (CSA-UPCH), a highly regarded University based the capitol city, Lima. Both groups will formulate insightful inquiry and dialogue surrounding the context of the Chesapeake and Peru and implications for stewardship. This shared language for assessing progress toward effective stewardship is the foundation for the comparative study and will be the common theme throughout the experience.
Chesapeake Semester Intersections
CS. intersections are “key words” or concepts that highlight the trade-offs, dichotomies, tensions, synergies, catalysts, and contradictions relevant to the Chesapeake Bay and abroad. The “Intersections” are used as cross-disciplinary tools to analyze, dissect, and discuss the various topics that are often approached through independent academic lenses. These “Intersections” are integrated throughout the curriculum of the Chesapeake Semester in order to create a framework for discussion.
Although the “Intersections” can be explored in isolation through the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities disciplines, our objective is to create bridges for students to confidently move between academic “silos.”
You will have the opportunity to develop relationships and connections with professionals in a number of fields. You will be more than “a student on a field trip.” You will be viewed and treated as a young professional and will be expected to engage your professors, lecturers, guides, and speakers in the same way that they will be engaging you. You may be especially interested in a specific field or the work of a certain professor, scientist, artist, musician, advocate, or waterman. Look upon the Chesapeake Semester as a unique opportunity to make connections that you will utilize during your undergraduate career, during graduate school, and at the beginning of your professional careers. Many internship opportunities are available from our partners through the Chesapeake Semester.