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Center for

Environment & Society


Our vision is a Chesapeake Bay and watershed that is healthy and thriving; one in which natural systems and human communities are in balance. Interdisciplinary academic programs promote the integration of environmental issues, social values, and good old river mud.

Lecture series, workshops, films and seminars provide new perspectives and professional development opportunities for the campus and the larger community. Competitively awarded student fellowships put students to work on real-world problems, allowing them to build a resume and establish connections in the professional world.

Chester River Watershed Observatory

Innovative, collaborative, and a model for water-based communities everywhere, the Chester River Watershed Observatory is a new way to understand the Chester River and its many-layered connections to the land and people surrounding it. Through a range of data-gathering methods, students, scientists, and citizens will more deeply connect to the waterway’s future and provide more thorough information for decisions that will affect the river, its surrounding communities, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. This initiative of Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society is based on information, education, and collaboration. 


Chester River Field Research Station

The Chester River Field Research Station was established in 1999 with the initiation of an academic study to restore a native grassland landscape habitat on 228 acres of what had previously been row crop farmland, and an avian migration banding station on Chino Farms, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Recently merged with the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College, CRFRS continues its research while providing educational opportunities for both the public and up-and-coming biologists.

Chesapeake Semester

Each fall, the Chesapeake Semester will engage a select group of students in the interdisciplinary study of North America’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. 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 journey in, on and around the 64,000 square mile watershed. Participants will have an opportunity to study cultures and the ecosystem in depth, explore solutions to environmental problems, and explore the nexus between science, policy, and people’s every day life. 


Energy Programs

ShorePower Project: The Center for Environment and Society (CES) and Washington College are partnering to help municipalities across the Eastern Shore reduce energy usage and costs, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Campus Energy Dashboard: CES and the Student Environmental Alliance are coordinating to use energy meters and the thrill of competition to encourage energy efficiency on campus.

President’s Climate Action Committee: CES staff, Washington College faculty, staff, and students, and Chestertown residents work together to help the College fulfill the requirements of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

Community Greening Tool Kit: Organizations and municipal governments can use this collection of resources to establish community greening programs in their areas. 

 It’s for the Birds

Visit this section for sample activities, data, resources, and more.

Thanks to the National Audubon Society, we have been able to create a teacher development program for Kent and Queen Anne’s County that focuses on birds and how they are impacted by climate change. This program offers a workshop and resources for teachers to use to integrate current environmental issues into their K-12 classrooms.




Past Projects 

Oyster Restoration

The Center for Environment & Society at Washington College began its oyster stewardship efforts in 2008 with community volunteers on the Chester River and 25 Taylor floats at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Funded by a grant from the  
Friends of Eastern Neck, these projects culminated in 20 bushels of oysters that were placed on a new oyster bar at Hail Cove in September 2009. 

Since 2010, the College has partnered with the Maryland Grows Oysters Program (MGO) to continue restoration projects along the Chester River. The state program is designed to foster stewardship and enhance education of the Chesapeake Bay’s resources. Citizen volunteers with waterfront access are given mailbox-sized cages filled with spat (seed oysters) to be hung on their piers so that the oysters can be free to grow without the threat of predation and siltation. CES is now partnering with the Chester River Association as the new program leader for the MGO Chester River Chapter.