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Center for

Environment & Society

Chesapeake Semester

Each fall, the Chesapeake Semester engages a select group of students in the interdisciplinary study of North America’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay.

Click here for Chesapeake Semester Applications! (Online)

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Participants will study the complex history, ecology, and culture of the Chesapeake as a microcosm of the challenges and transitions confronting coastal communities around the world. Using the College and the shores and waters of the Chester River as base camps, students will journey in, on and around the 64,000 square mile watershed.



This “signature semester” builds on the successful tradition of linking people and the environment in both the McLain Program in Environmental Studies and the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College. Connecting students to the land and water fosters a powerful sense of place and gives students a better understanding of the human and social dimensions of environmental issues. Participants will have the opportunity to study the ecosystem in depth, analyze solutions to environmental problems, and explore the nexus between science, policy, and people’s every day life.



This is a four-course program for 16 credits offered only in the fall semester. It combines intensive study, fieldwork, and outdoor adventure. Students might wake to write poetry at sunrise, muck through the marsh, kayak on the river, research aquatic organisms, hike in the mountains and sleep beneath the stars, all in the same week. 



Classwork and day trips are supplemented with four themed “journeys” away from campus.  On the third journey, participants will travel to Central America for a comparative study of culture, economics, politics, law, and ethics.