Curriculum & Course Descriptions
Adirondack Semester Curriculum Overview
Offered in both spring and fall semesters, a small group of up to 12 students will be in session with a diverse group of Clarkson faculty with specific interests, experience and scholarly work directly related to the Adirondack Park. Our mission is to deliver a dynamic blend of traditional and experiential education in an intimate and community-based learning environment. Students strive to answer broad questions concerning the relationship of social, economic and environmental impacts of the Adirondack Park. They are absorbed in interdisciplinary courses in the natural and social sciences and emerge with critical thinking and collaborative skills that prepare them to analyze complex problems and provide solutions related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
Faculty from Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Science, Political Science, Philosophy, Literature, Economics and Entrepreneurship use our Adirondack base and professional network to provide students a direct experience with the people and agencies that shape policy, conduct business, and lobby at local and state levels. Students are engaged through conversations in the classroom with their peers, professors and guest lecturers, in the community with local citizens, and while conducting scientific research in the field.
Our Adirondack Center for Sustainability and Education in Saranac Lake is comprised of two boarding houses with a live-in Residential Advisor to support professors and students. The separate classroom offers access to computers, a projector and screen, printers and a lecture space for up to 25.
The curriculum consists of five 3-credit courses providing the student with 15 transferable, 300 level credits. Each semester offers 2 University courses, 4-5 varied Knowledge Areas, 4-5 Communication Points, 1-2 Design Credits for Environmental Engineering students and a Science TECH Credit.
EV/BY 312 Adirondack Ecology and Environmental Science
Science Technology Credit, lab credit
This course introduces ecological and environmental science concepts relevant for understanding the structure and function of terrestrial, aquatic and human systems in the Adirondack Park. Students will learn to identify important plant and animal species representative of the Adirondack Mountains, and learn major features of ecological systems in the park. The course will also provide the students and assessment of human impacts on the ecology of ADK Park including but not limited to air and water pollution as well as energy systems. Mass and energy balance concepts will be introduced to aid the students in understanding how systems are impacted by activities in the park.
EV 314 Adirondack Integrated Research Project
Knowledge Areas: CGI, STS Communication Points: 2
Engineering Design Credits (1-2)
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.
There are five objectives for this course: Students will (1) Develop skills at evaluating diverse sources of information (written texts, oral interviews) to produce a considered opinion about a complex problem. (2) Hone 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.
EV/EC 315 Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in the Adirondacks
Knowledge Area: EC
This course will explore the characteristics of the entrepreneurs of the park while also understanding the opportunities and challenges that these entrepreneurs face. It will also explore the theories of externalities and public goods applied to pollution and environmental policy. The students will analyze the options for encouraging entrepreneurship and achieving economic development goals within the ADK Park.
EV/SS 320 Social and Political Issues in the Adirondacks
Knowledge Area: CSO, Communication Points: 1
The historical, social, political and environmental factors contributing to the fabric of the Adirondack Park is an evolving social experiment. The course readings will focus upon the New York State constitutional provisions that engendered the park, the policies that shaped the park along with the political actions that influence the park today. ADK is extraordinary for its history, and because it is a place where human residents live and recreate in sustainable ways that conserve resources and “forever wild” regions of the park. It is a critical laboratory for political decisions designed to limit development for the sake of ecosystems and habitats, yet to still reconcile public and private interests.
EV 322 Adirondack Park: A Sense of Place
Knowledge Areas: IA, CSO Communication Points: 1
To understand a place, one must often understand the views of nature and the environment as seen by writers, and essayists. Students will explore the Adirondacks through the literature while experiencing the lakes, rivers, streams and mountains. The readings, discussions and written assignments will explore the aesthetics, the social and political climate and the prevailing attitudes toward the environment that helped create the ADK Park. In addition, many forms of outdoor recreation will be explored as an aid to understanding the value of nature and the impact humans can impose upon our natural world. This course will provide students with an opportunity to participate in seasonal outdoor activities to learn how recreational activities have impacted the social, cultural, economic and physical aspects of the Park.
Students will review historical and contemporary land use policies and become familiar with the Park’s agencies that govern and enforce regulations. Leave No Trace travelling and camping skills will be taught in order to facilitate sustainable practices to preserve natural and man-made areas.
CE301 ADK Geographical Information Systems
Science Technology Credit
An introductory course in the concepts and uses of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) including analysis of GIS-based local and global geographic datasets. Provides basic knowledge of GIS theory and applications using existing state-of-the-art GIS software and current spatial data resources. Applications include: overlay analysis, spatial data query, map generation and terrain surface analysis. Students will also learn the basics of GPS data collection, remote sensing, 3D visualization, probability, statistics, and error analysis.
How does the Adirondack Semester fit into your time at Clarkson?
Minor in Environmental Science or Environmental Policy
Clarkson students that attend and successfully complete the Adirondack Semester’s coursework can earn 15 of the 21 credits required for a minor in either Environmental Science or Environmental Policy, and it is most probable that the other two courses required are part of your Major's curriculum.