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Clarkson launches new Adirondack Semester in Saranac Lake

Clarkson University is currently establishing the Adirondack Center for Education and Sustainability at 245 Lake Flower Ave. in Saranac Lake and will be the home of the college’s new program called the Adirondack Semester.

Clarkson University is currently establishing the Adirondack Center for Education and Sustainability at 245 Lake Flower Ave. in Saranac Lake and will be the home of the college’s new program called the Adirondack Semester. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— St. Lawrence University in Canton also offers an Adirondack Semester for its students; however, they live in a yurt village at Massawepie Lake west of Tupper Lake and immerse their students in a “wilderness” setting. Clarkson is offering a more civilized option.

“We wanted to be in Saranac Lake,” Dinan said. “It is more urban. We’re closer to DEC. We’re closer to town meetings. We’re closer to people. They’ll be around village people as opposed to being in a yurt with a few other students. Saranac Lake is a dynamic place. It’s a place for recreation and conservation.”

Clarkson’s Adirondack Semester is 15-credit exchange program: six credits in environmental science, six credits in liberal arts/humanities and three credits tailored to a student’s major as part of a research project in which they’ll write a white paper on an issue related to their field of study.

“For example, we could do a great project where we could look at what happened in Tupper Lake with the development there,” Dinan said.

An environmental science student could look at the way the developers are planning for their wastewater treatment. A sociology student could talk to residents asking their opinions on the project. A political science student could go to the Adirondack Park Agency to look at rules and regulations and talk to the mayor to ask why it’s important to have the development.

“So they’ll get all the facts, all the information, and they’ll present solutions for the conflict, if there is a conflict,” Dinan said. “It’s a solution-focused kind of research paper.”

The curriculum for the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters features seven, two-week modules plus a final week when student teams present their comprehensive research project. They’ll take the following courses: Plant Science of the Adirondacks, Aquatic Science of Adirondack Region, Adirondack Ecology & Natural History, Adirondack Integrated Research Project, Adirondack Regional Economic Development, Adirondack Environmental Science, Adirondack Outdoor Recreation, Adirondack Energy & Environmental Policy, Social & Political Issues in the Adirondacks, Literature of the Adirondacks and Where the Wild Things Are.

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