Course Descriptions

Special Topics Courses

The Chesapeake Regional Studies offers the following Special Topics Courses in spring 2022.

Catalog Courses

The following courses are listed in the College Catalog as permanent offerings of the Chesapeake Regional Studies. Note: Not all courses are taught in every academic year. See course schedule to determine which courses are being offered during the current semester.

Course Descriptions

This course is one of four courses that make up the Chesapeake Semester. Here students explore topics such as geology, coastal morphology and the formation of the Chesapeake Bay, physical, chemical and biological estuarine oceanography, estuarine productivity and community structure, zonation in marine habitats, salt marshes and mud flats, oyster bars and sea grass beds, forest ecology, and the science and impacts of climate change. Some lecturers are on campus, while others are delivered while traveling. The course includes class, home, and field lab exercises designed to reinforce course content, introduces scientific thinking and training in data collection and analysis. It is designed to foster cross-disciplinary thinking with the Humanities and Social Science courses of the Chesapeake Semester. A substantial amount of learning will take place in the field with particular design and focus around the second Journey, “Ridge to Ocean: Ecology and Geology of the Chesapeake.”

The focus of this piece of the semester is to explore the social aspects of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, including its people, history, and their complex relationships with one another and the environment. Students will cover a wide range of topics, drawing on the disciplines of anthropology and archaeology, economics, geographic information systems, history, political science and sociology. Students also will explore the ways in which these approaches may be informed by other disciplines, such as those in the humanities and natural sciences. Intersections between disciplines and integrating different kinds of knowledge are essential. A substantial amount of learning will take place in the field, with particular design and focus around the first Journey “Around the Chesapeake: A Sense of Place and History.”

This section of the Chesapeake Semester offers a humanistic perspective on the Chesapeake Bay. One way to think about this part of the course would be the most familiar: just as you will be exploring the organic life of the Bay from the perspective of the natural and social sciences, so too you will encounter, in both readings, discussions, and your various field experiences, cultural artifacts of the Bay in terms of music, philosophy, the visual arts, and writing. However, it will also be emphasized that to develop any understanding of the Bay, be it scientific or poetic or philosophical or anthropological, the student must learn to see and hear and think and write, as Thoreau puts it, with deeper references. Writing and thinking and creating are also organic endeavors. In this sense, our course is an exploration not just of the humanities of the Bay— arts, ethics, literature, writing—but of the humanistic understanding that you will bring to all the components of the Chesapeake Semester, that you will demonstrate (the expectation) in your final project, and that you will translate (the hope) into your future studies and endeavors beyond this course and the college.

The Chesapeake Semester is a novel design of integrated experiential learning rooted in Washington College’s strong traditions in liberal learning, coupled with its rich historical heritage and natural setting. This course builds upon three additional courses: CRS 242, CRS 240, and CRS 244 and helps to deliver elements of each course curricula in the field, dissolving disciplinary boundaries and making trans- disciplinary connections. Environmental policy and natural resource management are key topics, as students explore the rules and regulations that govern society’s use of our most precious resources. Food production and food systems are analyzed as a key but often controversial linkage between environment and society. An additional area of focus for this course is the global nature of the problems that we face in the Chesapeake, using our experiences in Central America as a means to compare and contrast coastal environments around the world. Students will use interdisciplinary tools like the “Chesapeake Semester Intersections” to help frame these concepts. A substantial amount of learning will take place in the field with particular design and focus around “Journey 4: Resources and Regulations of the Chesapeake.” Finally, this course will explore the ways in which a fuller understanding of place and people can be used to construct visions for the future, empowering people to take an active role in positively influencing society’s impact on the natural world. In doing so, students will learn the elements of becoming “student-citizen-leaders,” taking on the evolving role as they explore the Chesapeake area’s rich culture and environment.