Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.48
Liaison Heather Albert-Knopp
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

College of the Atlantic
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Heather Albert-Knopp
Dean of Admission
Office of Admission
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

College of the Atlantic has a dedicated Environmental Fund, part of which is directed to the support of student research. This fund is overseen by COA's Director of Energy Education and Management. The primary use of these funds is to support summer Energy Fellows. These positions, which are open to all qualified COA students, allow students to carry out energy and sustainability projects on campus and in the local community. Recent projects have analyzed the heating needs on campus and investigated the legal and financial framework needed for a local community-owned solar photovoltaic installation. The Environmental Fund also has supported students attending conferences on sustainability and waste reduction.

Additionally, the college annually has provided around $10,000 to support student participation in the annual meetings (Conferences of the Parties, or COPs) of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Students participate fully in the COP and publish reports and analyses on their blog, www.earthinbrackets.org.

Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Approximately half of the full-time faculty positions at COA are associated with endowed funds designed to support faculty research and programmatic work within human ecology (human ecology at COA is taken to be the interdisciplinary investigation of humans' interactions with our natural, social, and built environments). These funds are attached to specific faculty positions and are designated to support work in the following sustainability-related areas: ecology and conservation biology; sustainable agriculture and food systems; applied botany; conservation law and policy; land use planning; marine biology and conservation; philosophy of human ecology; literature and gender studies; green business and entrepreneurship; art and art history; government and polity; and geology/earth sciences. Our academic program is interdisciplinary, and faculty research projects often cut across multiple disciplines.

Following is a small selection of faculty work made possible by these funds between July 2015-June 2016:

-Sarah Hall (geology, earth sciences) gave a talk at the Geological Society of America Northeastern Section Meeting in Albany, NY, focused on her ongoing research work in Peru, where she is completing a chronology of past glaciations in a portion of the Peruvian Andes.

-Rich Borden (psychology, human ecology) was a program co-chair for the XXIst International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology (SHE), Shaping a Livable Future: Research—Education—Practice, held April 12-15, 2016 in Santa Ana, California. There he organized a conference symposium Ecological Knowledge, Human Values and Meaningful Livelihood, which included his presentation: “Rewriting Nature’s Story: Lessons from a Century of Ecological Science.” He conducted field research in France and Belgium, and wrote an invited chapter on “Psychological Dimensions of Sustainability” for a forthcoming volume on Sustainability Science by Elsevier.

-John Anderson (zoology, ecology, animal behavior) supported his field work with six students and one alumna to conduct gull ecology research on Great Duck Island, with a focus on the impact of aquaculture on bird behavior. This year’s work included tagging herring gulls with GPS tags to provide data on the birds’ location, track, and altitude flown each time the birds return to within a few hundred meters of a base station. In addition, the research team color-banded a record number of gulls, developed new monitoring protocols for Leach’s Storm petrels, assessed the impact of drones on nesting gulls, furthered its database on gull breeding success, and collaborated with the New England Aquarium on assessing stress hormones in gull guano.

-Sean Todd (biology, marine mammals) spent three months aboard the M/S Seabourn and M/S Hanse Explorer, expedition cruise vessels working between Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and Valparaiso via the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, as a guest lecturer and resident scientist representing COA’s Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalog. He also contributed one of the largest collections of humpback whale photo-identifications to the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalog that season.

-Suzanne Morse (botany, agroecology) continued with the preparation and planting of the third and final year of a research project testing the effect of chipped alder on soil quality and vegetable production.

-Ken Cline (law, public policy) helped develop the “Our Best Classroom” exhibit at COA’s Dorr Museum of Natural History, highlighting the relationship between the college and Acadia National Park. In addition, this year Ken was: appointed (by former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell) to the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission to help advise on matters relating to the management and development of the national park; named to a national Sierra Club task force charged with developing board policies and a “theory of change” document to integrate the stewardship of public lands into all of the Sierra Club’s work; and invited to become a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Commission on Protected Areas.

-Jay Friedlander (sustainable business) developed and expanded his work on “The Abundance Cycle,” a sustainable business model merging strategy and sustainability. The model was featured in a workshop at Brown University and articles published by MITSloan Management Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Virgin.com. Jay also taught a two-day workshop on embedding social change into the curriculum for faculty at Hamilton College, and a Summer University food systems business course in partnership with the German Society of Human Ecology.

-Karen Waldron (literature) chaired panels and presented papers at the Northeast Modern Language Association in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Popular Culture Association in Seattle, Washington. The panel she chaired discussed the literary ecology of island and water worlds.

-Jamie McKown (government, polity) continued his work on a documentary project systematically surveying the beginnings of US intercollegiate debate at the end of the 19th century, which he presented at a number of conferences this past year. A comprehensive account of preliminary findings will be highlighted in the first National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored anthology on debate practices and civic education, forthcoming from Penn State University Press.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

COA is by definition an interdisciplinary college and faculty. As such, it is an expectation that our non-departmental faculty work towards making contributions to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research and teaching. This is assessed during faculty reviews as part of the faculty member's contribution to the intellectual depth and diversity of the college.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

College of the Atlantic's Thorndike Library supports sustainability research and learning in a variety of ways. We have a subject guide titled Sustainable Food Systems that focuses on library and learning resources. The library developed this guide with assistance from students and faculty involved with sustainable food systems studies at the college. The library also has an extensive collective of books and other resources that support classes emphasizing sustainability. These classes deal with topics such as climate change, composting, renewable energy solutions for coastal islands, and more. Our regular online databases and library collections provide support for sustainability research. Materials that are needed for research that are not readily available in the library can be acquired through the Inter-Library Loan service as part of MINERVA, a state-wide consortium of libraries in Maine.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.