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Open Course @ UMass Boston

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    In partnership with the College of Advancing and Professional Studies, the School for the Environment at UMass Boston offers its first Open Course on CourseSites:

    Coasts and Communities

    with Introduction to Coastal Environmental Science Lab

    Self-Enroll for Free Register for Credit

    About the Course

    Course opens May 27 and closes July 3, 2014.

    Environmental problems do not recognize geographic or disciplinary boundaries. In order to develop sustainable solutions to environmental challenges we must incorporate the natural and social sciences and also deeply engage local communities. Through the lens of coastal systems and the human communities dependent upon them, we will explore how coupled human-natural systems interact. Participants will be introduced to fundamental concepts in coastal environmental science and will learn how to collect and evaluate data to solve real-world local environmental problems.

    Unique to this course is the infusion of real environmental scientists who will introduce you to their work in the coastal environments of Massachusetts and guide you in lab and field activities to help you apply in practice concepts from a broad array of topics introduced in the course.

    The course is free as a non-credit open course. The course may be taken for credit by registering through UMass Boston (details below).


    The course is best suited for high school seniors and learners with an undergraduate level understanding of environmental science, but is open to everyone interested in the field.

    Certificates and Badges

    Participants who successfully complete the required activities will be awarded Open Badges related to course milestones and a Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.

    Registering for 1-Credit

    Students who register through the University of Massachusetts Boston and complete the course successfully can earn one course credit, should they matriculate at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Students will need to register through the UMB CAPS Shopping Cart and pay the associated fee during the open registration period. The course code is CAPS 118: Intro to Coastal Environmental Science Lab. Students will be emailed instructions for accessing the course on CourseSites after they register. Details

    Schedule of Topics and Labs

    Week 1 Topic The Natural History of Your Place
    Lab Sampling Biodiversity
    Week 2 Topic The Human History of Your Place
    Lab EcoBeaker
    Week 3 Topic How Healthy and Resilient is Your Environment?
    Lab Watersheds and Topographic Maps
    Week 4 Topic Global Change and Variation
    Lab The Rock Cycle
    Week 5 Topic How Can We Scale from Local to Global to Local?
    Lab Weather
    Week 6 Topic How Can We Respond and Adapt to Changes?
    Lab Energy

    The School for the Environment

    Affiliated with the College of Science and Mathematics, the School for the Environment (SFE) is the University of Massachusetts Boston's premier interdisciplinary environmental school. SFE integrates the natural and social sciences to generate and apply new knowledge about the quality of our environment and the sustainable use of its resources. The research sites of our faculty and students range from local to global, from the health of the Boston Harbor to whale migration patterns in Antarctica. Visit the SFE website to learn more.

    About the Instructors

    Robyn Hannigan

    Robyn Hannigan, PhD, is the Dean of the School for the Environment at UMass Boston.  In addition to her administrative duties at UMass Boston she is also actively engaged at the national and international level in both service and research.  As a geochemist, Robyn's research focuses on studying climate change-ocean interactions through the chemistry of ocean sediments.  Her research stretches from Earth's deep past and how climate change and mass extinction events are recorded in deep ocean sediments into the future where her experiments look at how climate change impacts ocean chemistry and mineral formation.

    Anamarija Frankic

    Anamarija Frankic, PhD, is the director of the Green Harbors Project (GHP), at the University of Massachusetts Boston, a Fulbright and Biomimicry Fellow, and a member of the advisory council at Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Anamarija's educational background in biology, ecology, limnology and marine science guided her interdisciplinary work in coastal ecosystem management and restoration, nationally and internationally. In 2008, Anamarija and her students established the Green Harbors Project to discover how urban harbors can become healthy, wealthy and sustainable, right here and now.

    Alan Christian

    Alan Christian, PhD, is a freshwater ecologist and Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research group, the Freshwater Ecology Laboratory (FEL), conducts research on the life history, ecology, and evolution of freshwater organisms and the limnology of stream and lake ecosystems. The FEL use a variety of approaches in their investigations such as population/molecular genetics, microbial community structure, ecological stoichiometry, geochemistry, and stable CHNOS isotopes analyses, field and laboratory experiments, and geomorphology, GIS, and statistical techniques. In addition to his research, Alan teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Biology, Aquatic Biology and Ecology, and Environmental Science.

    Sarah Oktay

    Sarah Oktay, PhD, is the director of the Nantucket Field Station. This 107-acre field site includes a pristine salt marsh, rolling uplands, and harbor waterfront on Nantucket Island which provides research, education and community service opportunities for participants from the island community, Umass Boston students and scientists from around the country. Sarah is the vice-chairman of Nantucket Island's Conservation Commission and a regular contributor on the science column of Yesterday's Island - a Nantucket newspaper, where she shares her findings from the field.

    Elizabeth Boyle

    Elizabeth Boyle, PhD, is a lecturer at University of Massachusetts Boston. Elizabeth's expertise includes ecology and evolution of marine invertebrates. Elizabeth grew up in Easton, MA and from on early age was fascinated by the coastal habitats of the area. She received both her BS and MS in Biology from George Washington University in Washington D.C. and her PhD in Environmental Biology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Elizabeth teaches Marine and Coastal Ecological Research at the Nantucket Field Station where she supervises student research about adaptations and interactions of species in coastal systems: beaches, salt marshes, sand dunes, and embayments of Nantucket.

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