Curriculum & Course Descriptions
Please review the Curriculum Guide for more information and course syllabi.
Where Nature, People & Policy meet
The Adirondck Semester is an interdisciplinary study of sustainability examinined through the affairs of society and the natural environment of the Adirondack Park. The largest park in the contiguous states has been called one of the great experiments in large-scale conservation and regulated economic development. Our mission is to deliver a blend of traditional and experiential education where by students acquire “real world” skills and content knowledge to analyze complex problems related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Students accepted in this program will learn from Clarkson faculty, all of whom are distinguished scholars who have worked in the Adirondacks. Students will be in session with Adirondack Park leaders, policy makers, residents and business owners and learn from peers in mentored team projects.
The semester consists of seven 2-week modules which creates an an intese immersion into each course. The final week of the semester is reserved for preparing and presenting the integrated research project. Students are expected to attend all classes to earn 15 credits. The following is a breakdown of course credit: 6 Environmental Science, 6 Humanities and Social Sciences and 3 tailored to a student's major.
6 Credits: Environmental Sciences
Students will take 3 two credit modules that focus on environmental science and natural history of the Adirondack Park. Courses are designed to be rigorous but also accessible to students that are not majoring in the natural sciences.
Plant science (taxonomic, physiological, ecological, and economical) of the Adirondack Park will be examined. Students will examine plants and plant communities in terrestrial, aquatic and semi-aquatic environments with an emphasis on field observations.
EV 310 Adirondack Ecology and Natural History
This course introduces ecological concepts relevant for understanding the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic natural communities in the Adirondack Park. Students will also learn to identify important plant and animal species representative of the Adirondack Mountains, and learn major features of their behavior and ecology.
EV 316 Adirondack Environmental Science
A brief history of air, soil and water pollution in the Adirondacks followed by an investigation into the major sources and concerns of pollution in the region. Through lectures and laboratory experiences the following areas will be studied: air water and soil quality parameters and their measurements, material and energy balances, water air and soil chemistry concepts, toxicology and risk assessment.
EV 341 Aquatic Science of the Adirondack Region (Spring Semester)
Aquatic environments are important features in the Adirondack landscape. Students will learn the variety of aquatic environments in the region and their ecological significance and functioning. Field observations will involve the use of traditional and advanced sampling technologies.
6 Credits: Humanities and Social Science
Students will take 3 two credit modules focused on humanities and social sciences. The specific courses vary among semesters, and shape a primary theme for each semester.
This course provides an introduction to Regional Economic Development in the context of the Adirondacks. The course focuses on encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship and on maintaining a balance of economic development and environmental integrity.
EV 322 Adirondack Orientation
Part recreation, part sociology and part political science; this course is a general orientation to the Park and to one’s self as you seek to understand your role as a participant, student and observer in the complex dynamics of the Adirondack region.
EV 410 Where the Wild Things Are
This course takes Henry David Thoreau’s claim “In Wildness is the Preservation of the World” as the philosophical starting point of the American environmental movement. We will examine the philosophical writings of environmental writers from Thoreau and Aldo Leopold to Stan Rowe and Wes Jackson as they explore the concept of wildness and its application to land use, environmental policy and agriculture. Students will focus their assignments on the application of this environmental philosophy to the history of, and contemporary issues confronting, the Adirondack wilderness and its human and non-human inhabitants.
EV 324 Literature and the Adirondacks: Reading and Writing Mountains and Rivers
Since the nineteenth century American writers and intellectuals have taken inspiration from the Adirondack region. Drawing on the emerging theoretical orientation of ecopoetics and ecocriticism, this course will explore the relationship of literary production to the environment of the Adirondacks.
EV 318 Adirondack Energy and Environmental Policy
This course will examine issues relevant to environmental concerns and energy production (and often both simultaneously) in the Adirondack Park. It will be structured around four broad policy issue-areas, and these lectures will be supplemented by specific examinations of recent problems in energy and environmental policy within the Park.
3 Credits: Student's Major
Students will complete the integrative three-credit project that draws upon the material from the individual modules. Working in small teams, students will investigate, analyze, and make recommendations in a white-paper report about a complex issue addressing the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of the Adirondack Park.
The two-week modules consist of intensive content lectures and activities, experiential field trips, guest speakers and independent research that will include meetings and interviews with Adirondack residents and policy makers. At the end each module, each student will be required to present a report in written and oral form for the faculty member to evaluate.
EV314 Adirondack Integrated Research Project
This problem-based learning course will task students to analyze and suggest solutions to a complex problem relevant to the economic, social and environmental welfare of the Adirondack Park. The course is intended to reinforce what they have learned in other Adirondack courses.
One important way that governments, businesses, academic researchers, and NGOs investigate and attempt to solve complex technological, environmental and social problems is by forming task-force groups. The groups are comprised of individuals with diverse skills and interests, who are tasked to analyze the many facets of a problem and then provide a consensus document on their findings. The document, often referred to as a white paper, is designed to objectively inform the reader about the problem, and then make some considered recommendations about policy or directions of further study.
Your task will be to work in a group of 4-5 individuals to produce a white paper on a topic related to sustainable development in the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Semester faculty will assign the topic. In the Fall ’12 semester students explored the APA’s process of granting permits for a large scale development in Tupper Lake. http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/534373/Clarkson-students-question-resort-approval-process.html
Our Spring ’13 class is examining the proposition of turning rail beds into recreation trails. An analysis of the economic, environmental and social impacts of each project will be examined as will the unique Unit Land Management plan that governs the 90 mile corridor. http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/535642/Will-the-state-reopen-the-rail-corridor-plan-.html
There are five objectives for this course: You will (1) Develop your skills at evaluating diverse sources of information (written texts, oral interviews) to produce a considered opinion about a complex problem. (2) Hone your skills at collaboratively working in a group toward a common goal. (3) Learn how to write an objective but thought-provoking white paper which will be useful to decision makers and concerned citizens. (4) Acquire an understanding of the challenges that are faced when trying to develop landscape-level plans for sustainable development in the Park, and how the lessons learned here might be profitable applied in other regions of North America.
To view all syllabi please view our Curriculum Guide.