About the ESS

The Environmental Science Semester (ESS) is a 10-week program for sophomore and junior Environmental Science and Marine Science majors at Saint Joseph’s College. The entire program, from date of launch through the last final exam and project, is off-campus; sometimes very far off campus!

The ESS consists of 4 courses divided up into three segments. The four courses are Climate Change and Glacial Geology, Marine Ecology, Oceanography, and Field Methods.  The first three courses pretty much get their own segments, and Field Methods is spread out through all three segments.

The concepts behind the ESS are rooted in both experiential education and immersion education.  Because students are taking a full load of courses during the ESS, they aren’t simultaneously trying to take courses in Philosophy, Math, History, etc..  Students will be studying and doing (and eating and sleeping) Environmental Science for two months straight — the experiential and conceptual connections will be transformative.

We’ll spend late August in eastern Maine, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick investigating evidence of both ice age and tropical climates.  In early September, we’re headed to New Hampshire’s White Mountains to view the effects of alpine glaciation.  In mid- and late September, it’s the central and southern coast of Maine for studies of ecosystem interactions in the marine environment.  And finally, in October, we’ll plumb the depths of the Gulf of Maine (i.e., study oceanography) from a historic Maine schooner.