WELCOME TO COLLEGE
WEâ€™RE UNLIKE ANY COLLEGE
OF THE ATLANTIC We’re a college built around a unique idea: human ecology. A human ecological perspective explores the relationships between humans and our environments, and stems from the premise that our world’s most pressing problems require solutions that cross the boundaries of academic disciplines and seek fresh combinations of ideas. Students come to COA because they want to be part of creating a more sustainable and humane world. Here, you will be inspired and challenged by a close-knit community of faculty and peers. You will dig into complex questions in the classroom and the laboratory, and also the woods and waters of Acadia National Park, the conference halls of United Nations climate negotiations, the Gulf of Maine, or the corn fields of rural Mexico. We’re so glad you’ve found us.
YOU’VE EVER KNOWN.
THE WORLD ISN’T
D I V I D E D BY
MAJORS Climate change. Poverty. Plastic pollution. Racial equity. The complex problems facing our world aren’t biology problems or economics problems; they’re messy and interconnected, and demanding of new ideas and solutions. That’s why at COA you won’t find academic departments, long lists of required courses, or majors and minors. What you will find are relevant, fascinating classes that will change your perspective on the world, professors who are passionate about teaching and diving into big questions, and students who support and challenge each other to take risks and to continuously grow, both intellectually and as human beings. We’re a school for people who don’t want to be boxed in, who are excited by the connections between subjects, and who want to make a difference.
A COLLEGE FOR THE What does it mean to design your own course of study?
Each term you’ll choose your courses based on the subjects that intrigue you and the skills you need to achieve your goals. If you’ve already got a solid plan, you can hit the ground running in your very first term; or if you want to explore multiple subjects and interests, you’ll have ample opportunity to cast a wide net. Your academic advisor will help you navigate your unique path, and our degree requirements (including writing, quantitative reasoning, an internship, and a capstone senior project) provide the scaffolding to ensure you’ll develop the right skills to launch you into the world of work or advanced study. With so few required courses and so many possibilities to choose from, you’ll find that your curiosity, passion, and sense of wonder will be guiding forces in your COA education. Start digging in at coa.edu/courses.
C U R I O U S
COA has 350 students and 35 faculty, and we come from more than 40 U.S. states and 45 countries around the world. We’ve chosen the college’s size intentionally, to break down stereotypes and social barriers, and so our students and faculty will know each other as individuals and work closely and collaboratively both inside and outside of the classroom. By the end of your first term you’ll recognize most everyone on campus, and you’ll be on a first-name basis with peers and professors alike. With an average class size of 12 and a student-tofaculty ratio of 10:1, you won’t be just another face in the crowd.
SOMETIMES THE BEST
CLASSROOMS At COA you’ll spend a considerable amount of time learning in the field. Sometimes this means wading waistdeep into a quaking bog on a quest for glacial mud, others talking with lobstermen at a statewide fisheries forum. You might go to meet a legendary artist in her studio, pound the pavement on Capitol Hill, or spend a full term in the American West or in Mexico, Taiwan, France, or Cuba. Learning in the field will keep your education relevant and real. It will stretch your knowledge and skills, and push you to understand new perspectives. Sure, you’ll also spend plenty of time in classrooms, but we’re serious about wanting a big part of your COA education to take place outside them.
ROOMS AT ALL
SO MANY CO U R SES COSTA RICAN NATURAL HISTORY & CONSERVATION
GEOLOGY OF MOUNT DESERT ISLAND
ACTIVATING SPACES: INSTALLATION ART
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
GEOLOGY AND HUMANITY
INTRO TO CHAOS & FRACTALS
A TINY HOME: FROM SKETCH TO HOUSEWARMING
CHANGING SCHOOLS, CHANGING SOCIETY
ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD
PHILOSOPHIES OF LOVE
BEES & SOCIETY
FROM NATIVE EMPIRES TO NATION STATES
DRAWING MINERAL & BOTANICAL MATTER IN THE FORESTS OF MAINE CALLING BULLSHIT: CRITICAL DATA LITERACY IMPROV COMEDY
OCEANS & FISHES
POLITICS & THE SUPREME COURT INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
NAPOLEONâ€™S BUTTONS: HOW CHEMISTRY HAS SHAPED HISTORY
SO MANY WAYS TO
CAPITALISM: ECONOMICS & INSTITUTIONS
CELLULAR PROCESSES OF LIFE
JAZZ, ROCK, AND BLUES
ACADIA: EXPLORING THE NATIONAL PARK IDEA
HYDRO POLITICS IN A THIRSTY WORLD
INTRO TO CONTEMPORARY DANCE & COMPOSITION
FUNCTIONAL PLANT MORPHOLOGY
CONTEMPORARY ARTIST AS RESEARCHER AND ACTIVIST ENDANGERED SPECIES & US WILDLIFE LAW
CAPITALISM: ECONOMICS & INSTITUTIONS INDIGENOUS AMERICA
CLIMATE JUSTICE ETHNOBOTANY
FILM, SOUND, AND IMAGE INTRO TO OCEANOGRAPHY
GRAPHIC DESIGN SEMINAR IN CLIMATE CHANGE
THE MYSTICS HISTORIES OF RACE PROGRAMMING WITH PYTHON
BIOLOGY THROUGH THE LENS
MARINE MAMMAL BIOLOGY INTRO TO GLOBAL POLITICS CERAMICS
ANIMATION NATURAL RESOURCES
LAND USE PLANNING
RELIGION & SCIENCE
ADVANCED SEMINAR IN ECOLOGICAL ECONOMICS
CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL MOVEMENT STRATEGIES STORYTELLING & PERFORMANCE
C O N N E C T THEM
What do the Smithsonian archives, Iceland Conservation Volunteers, and a Senegalese seed bank have in common? They’re among the hundreds of places where COA students have done internships. A 440-hour internship is one of the requirements for COA graduation; that means you’ll spend 40 hours a week, for 11 weeks, getting valuable work experience in an area that aligns with your academic interests and intended career path. Some students meet future employers through their internships; others may discover their “dream job” isn’t the right fit after all. Learn about our other degree requirements, including the term-long, student-designed senior project, at: coa.edu/degree-requirements
Making thoughtful change is a central part of COAâ€™s mission.
We put this into practice by governing the college togetherâ€”students, staff, and faculty. Through participatory committees and our weekly All College Meeting we pass policies, hire faculty, plan new buildings, and approve course offerings as a community. Working together, we make real decisions with real impacts on our lives at the college. This work can be empowering, and, sometimes frustrating, illuminating, or just plain messyâ€”like it is in the real world. Community governance gives us opportunities to learn about ourselves and about collaborative decision making, complex institutions, and patience.
TO G E T H E R
CAMPUS FA C I L I T I E S The COA campus has a range of facilities and resources for students. The Amos Eno Greenhouse is home to hundreds of live plant species and used for an array of academic projects. In the COA/ Acadia National Park Herbarium youâ€™ll find more than 15,000 preserved plant specimens documenting Maineâ€™s coastal region and beyond. The Blum Gallery features art exhibitions by students, faculty, and outside artists, and the Gates Community Center hosts regular speakers, concerts, and theatrical performances. Thorndike Library provides access to academic resources both near and far, and its reading room and stacks are popular spots for quiet study. The Dorr Museum of Natural History investigates, interprets, and displays the natural world of Maine through exhibits designed and produced by COA students. Deering Common Community Center includes health and counseling services, as well as a meditation room, student lounge, and meeting spaces with waterfront views. Academic services include our writing center, computer lab, and the COA Office of Internships and Career Services.
FARMS (We have two.) COA’s two organic farms provide experiential learning opportunities in sustainable agriculture and food systems, and also feature on our dining hall menus! In the early mornings, you may find students doing chores at Peggy Rockefeller Farms, hauling water to sheep or feeding cows. A few miles away, others may be harvesting carrots and cabbage from Beech Hill Farm’s vegetable fields. Classes in areas such as forest management, drawing, food systems, agroecology, and earth science make use of the farms and their facilities, and you’ll find food from both farms on your plate year-round.
ISLANDS (Two of these, too.) Great Duck Island and Mt. Desert Rock extend our campus 10 and 25 miles out to sea, respectively. Each year, groups of intrepid students spend their summers at our island research stations monitoring nesting seabirds, conducting wildlife censuses, photo-identifying finback and humpback whales, and conducting other research with faculty and Allied Whale, our marine mammal research group.
#1 Green College in America in 2016, 2017, and 2018 (as ranked by the Prin
S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y
As you might expect from a college of human ecology, sustainability is central to just about everything we do.
Together we wrestle with putting our human-ecological values into action on campus and in the world, and in the process we often find ourselves changing not just light bulbs but also our conceptions of what it means to be â€œgreen.â€? From the food we eat to the energy we consume, the courses we teach, and the community we build together, our commitment to environmental and social justice is an effort that engages faculty, staff, and students in the intellectual and practical life of the college.
OUR COA is a close-knit intellectual and social community, where life is informal, friendly, and always busy. On any day you might build a bike, participate in a poetry slam, play a pick-up game of soccer, attend a lecture, sit in on an orchestra practice, or ski through the national park. We’re not just learning in class, we’re also learning how to live together in community and how to become the best versions of ourselves. The close ties you’ll forge with friends, classmates, faculty, and staff will enrich and energize you long after graduation.
There are so many ways to stay busy in and out of class, even at a college without any sports teams! Students are the drivers of most on-campus activities—if it’s not already happening, you can start it! Recent student clubs and activities include:
Aurora Ball-ealis—annual midwinter dance party Bar Island Swim—annual event, each September Black Fly Trail Runners Blues/Fusion Dance Club Bulk Foods Buying Club Choir Community Show—fall variety show Council on Foreign Affairs Earth in Brackets—int’l environmental actiivism Fiber Arts Club Fireside Fridays—winter term Food Club Futbol/Soccer Club Good Film Club Midwifery Club Open Mic Nights—each term Orchestra Outdoor Leadership Program Outing Club Photography Club Poetry Collective Spectrum—LGBTQ+ Spirituality Group Thoreau Environmental Leaders Workshops Water Polo Yoga Zero Waste Club
HOUSING AND FOOD Shared house chores, community dinners, and late-night conversations in the kitchen help make COA’s on-campus houses feel like homes. Our residences are a mix of former seaside estates and newer dwellings built by the college to encourage community living and meet high environmental standards. Each house has its own character and sense of community, as well as its own Resident Advisor (RA)—an older student tasked with facilitating house responsibilities and cohesion. The RAs also serve as a support system for new students as they adjust to college life. All first-year students live on campus; transfer and returning students have the option to rent houses or apartments in the village of Bar Harbor, a short walk or bike ride away from campus. Monday through Friday, COA’s Blair Dining Hall, affectionately known as Take-A-Break (or TAB), is the busy hub at the center of campus. We serve three meals a day and they’re all made from scratch, with more than 30% of ingredients sourced locally and sustainably, and with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options at every meal. If the day’s TAB menu doesn’t suit your fancy, you can always grab a smoothie, salad, soup, sandwich, or made-to-order personal pizza at Sea Urchin Cafe.
WHERE THE MO
Mount Desert Island is like no place else on earth. As a COA student your backyard will be the trails and granite-domed mountains of Acadia National Park, and out your front door you’ll greet the island-studded waters of Frenchman Bay. You’ll hear frogs calling in spring, wake up to the smell of the ocean, learn the ebb and flow of the tides, and watch the constellations change with the season. Just a short walk from campus, the national park offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and experiential learning. COA’s Outing Club organizes regular hiking and paddling trips, and you can borrow tents, stoves, and snowshoes from the gear shed for your own adventures. When you arrive on campus for your first term we’ll give you a trail map, and, one way or another, we trust you’ll put it to good use.
EET THE SEA
Bar Harbor is a scenic, small town of 5,000 with a notable twist: each summer millions of visitors flock here for vacation. During our peak tourist season, from June to October, youâ€™ll find hotels, gift shops, restaurants, boutiques, and scenic excursions galore. During the winter and spring the island is quieter, with many local businesses open to serve the year-round community. The bookstore, second-hand shop, coffee shops, cinemas, natural foods store, outdoor gear supplier, and public library, all within a mile of campus, will likely be regular destinations during your years at COA. Every student receives a membership to the local YMCA, which provides access to a pool, fitness room, and offerings like volleyball, basketball, indoor soccer, water polo, and exercise classes.
WHAT OU R
A LU M N I DO
ABE NOE-HAYS '00 CO-FOUNDER/RESEARCH DIRECTOR, RICH EARTH INSTITUTE BRATTLEBORO, VT
COA alumni work in a range of fields encompassing science, art, education, technology, business, law, government, health, and more.
HELENA SHILOMBOLENI '09
JULIA ROWE '01
POST-DOC RESEARCHER, UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO ONTARIO, CANADA
INVASIVE SPECIES RESEARCH SPECIALIST, ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM TUCSON, AZ
APRIL CHITRAKAR '04
RICHARD HILLIARD â€˜09
DOCTOR OF VETERINARY MEDICINE OWNER, TOPANGA EQUINE, INC. LOS ANGELES, CA
PHD STUDENT, ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY CORVALLIS, OR
TARA JENSEN '07
AARON JONAH LEWIS '05
BAKER/OWNER, SMOKE SIGNALS, WOOD-FIRED BAKERY SCHOOL POUND, VA
INTERNATIONAL MUSICIAN DETROIT, MI
DANIELLE ROSE BYRD '05
SERGIO CAHUEQUE '17
HANNAH M. SEMLER '06
WOODCARVER/ARTIST BAR HARBOR, ME
GRASSROOTS ORGANIZER, ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH STRATEGY CENTER PORTLAND, ME
FOUNDER, WHOLE CROPS CO-FOUNDER, CEO, FARMDROP ME, CO, AZ
NISHAD JAYASUNDARA '05
DIANA KOMBE '06
CHELLIE PINGREE '79
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MAINE ORONO, ME
CONSULTANT, ZS ASSOCIATES CAMBRIDGE, MA
REPRESENTATIVE TO UNITED STATES CONGRESS FROM MAINEâ€™S FIRST DISTRICT NORTH HAVEN, ME
SAM MILLER-MCDONALD '09
ERICA MALTZ '07
PHD CANDIDATE, ENERGY & POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD OXFORD, UK
MARJOLAINE WHITTLESEY '05
NATURAL RESOURCES DIRECTOR, BURNS PAIUTE TRIBE BURNS, OR
LEAD TEACHER, THE TELLING ROOM PORTLAND, ME
re ce i ve need-based financial aid
Of our 350 students, 24% are international, representing more than 45 countries. The rest come from 40 states including 17% from right here in Maine. More than 50% of students will have an international experience while at COA.
83% of COA students receive need-based financial aid, primarily in the form of institutional scholarships. Our students graduate with an average debt of $24,000, well below the national average.
100% complete internships
All students will complete an INTERNSHIP at a workplace in their field. Theyâ€™ll also undertake a term-long, capstone SENIOR PROJECT. These are two of many ways students apply their learning to the real world.
to grad school
THE PRINCETON REVIEW says #8 LGBTQ-Friendly #11 Best Campus Food #12 Professors Get High Marks #12 Students Study the Most #14 Most Active Student Government
Princeton Review has named us AMERICA’S GREENEST COLLEGE for three years in a row, and Sierra magazine ranked us #1 on their “Cool Schools” list in 2016 and 2017. Students are involved in all aspects of the college’s sustainability initiatives.
Within one year of graduation, 97% OF COA ALUMNI go on to graduate school or are employed. 65% of those working have a job in their field. Within five years of graduation, 60% OF GRADUATES pursue MASTER’S OR DOCTORAL level degrees.
US NEWS says #12 Most Innovative College #13 Best Value College
The academic year operates on a TRIMESTER SCHEDULE with fall, winter, and spring terms, each 10 WEEKS long. Students take three classes per term.