Year 1 Expeditions

TERRAIN expeditions are designed to provide Unity College students opportunities to develop important foundational knowledge and skills and to prepare them for further study in all of the degree majors at the College.

Every first-year student must complete at least one expedition in each of three different lenses (Commerce & Enterprise, The Human Experience, Natural Resource Policy & Law, and Natural Sciences). This enables Unity College students to build a broad understanding of the different approaches to environmental problem-solving and an appreciation for the variety of environmentally-focused career options available.

While all of the expeditions are valuable and appropriate for any Unity College student, we have made some recommendations for students who are interested in particular degree majors (noted below).

Category 1 and Category 2

Students enroll during semester 1. Category 1 expeditions run the first six weeks and category 2 expeditions run the second six weeks.

Eating Sustainably

Commerce and Enterprise Lens

Eating Sustainably Between 2019 and 2050 the global population is projected to increase by a third. How will all of these people access a healthy, nutritional diet? And furthermore, how can this be done without further depleting natural resources and impacting natural systems? This expedition will explore the concept of the “sustainable diet,” as defined in a 2012 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The determination of this diet considers many aspects of local, regional, and global food systems from food production, to the processing and distribution of foods, through to food consumption and waste.

Through the framework of planetary boundaries and the triple bottom line, students will make connections between the sustainable diet concept and agriculture, health, the environment, and food systems. A primary focus for students will be to realize and investigate ways in which food system enterprises operating in New England are taking on the challenge of delivering the sustainable diet while also positively addressing the financial bottom line.

Category 1 Modules:

  • WR 101: Writing & Rhetoric 1 or SA 100: Foundations of Organic Horticulture
  • MA 101: College Algebra or BI 101: Biological Diversity
  • SS 101: Sustainability & Social Institutions

Category 2 Modules:

  • WR 102: Writing & Rhetoric 2
  • BI 101: Biological Diversity or CH 110 Chemistry 1 (Expedition)
  • SPH 103: Ethics of Eating

In addition to students interested in Eating Sustainably theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Sustainable Agriculture

 

Living in Harmony with Nature

The Human Experience Lens 

What does it mean to “live in harmony with nature”? What is an “Environmental Citizen,” and how does such a person interact with “nature” in various settings? In what ways do biological, ekistic, and interpersonal relations influence your approach to the natural world or the people who inhabit it?

We will begin to answer these questions through experiencing “sustainable living” at a variety of scales. In the process, we will explore some of the wide-ranging considerations that inform Maine wilderness adventures. We will also investigate how we position and define human and natural systems while seeking out models for more mutualistic ways of being, ultimately learning how to communicate about the natural world in ways that inform, move, and empower various audiences.

Category 1 Modules:

  • WR 101: Writing & Rhetoric or SA 100: Foundations of Organic Horticulture
  • MA 101: College Algebra or BI 101: Biological Diversity
  • SS 101: Sustainability & Social Institutions

Category 2 Modules:

  • WR 101: Writing & Rhetoric 2
  • BI 101: Biological Diversity or CH 110 Chemistry 1 (Expedition)
  • PY 211: Group Process

In addition to students interested in Living in Harmony with Nature theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Art and Environment, Adventure Therapy, Environmental Writing and Media Studies

 

Illegal Wildlife Trade

Natural Resource Policy and Law Lens

While international wildlife trafficking is often viewed as a serious transnational threat to the security, stability, and economy of entire nations such as Tanzania, Vietnam, or Brazil, it is a problem everywhere around the globe — and in our own backyard. In exploring this issue, we will seek to understand the key questions associated with wildlife trafficking: its scope, causes, consequences, and existing and potential solutions.

Our guiding premise is that understanding illegal wildlife trafficking requires engagement with multiple disciplines, from science, to sustainable development, to writing and law. As we dig into this complex problem, students will build skills across a range of disciplines and work with law enforcement and resource management professionals on some of the pressing environmental issues of our time.

Category 1 Modules:

  • WR 101: Writing & Rhetoric or AR 100: Art Explorations: Photography
  • MA 101: College Algebra or BI 101: Biological Diversity
  • SS 101: Sustainability & Social Institutions

Category 2 Modules:

  • WR 102: Writing & Rhetoric 2
  • BI 101: Biological Diversity or CH 110 Chemistry 1 (Expedition)
  • SS 121: Cross Cultural Comparisons of Wildlife Policies

In addition to students interested in Illegal Wildlife Trade theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Conservation Law Enforcement

 

Animal Care

Natural Science Lens 

Whether in a zoological facility, a rehabilitation center, a farm, or a family home, everyone has had an experience with an animal in human care. Key areas, such as nutrition, proper housing, health maintenance, and behavior expression must be met to ensure animal welfare standards. As we continue to see more animals under personal ownership, as well as increased scrutiny on standards of professional animal care facilities, it is important for those working in the field to understand the complex nature of caring for animals.

The expedition will explore the multiple aspects of properly caring for animals housed in human care. Students will learn the importance of understanding animal classifications, natural habitat adaptations, and behavior. Building on these concepts, students will examine requirements for meeting animal needs in human care. Through observation and detailed record keeping, students will investigate proper techniques for feeding, housing, breeding, training, and maintaining health standards.

Category 1 Modules:

  • WR 101: Writing & Rhetoric I or AR 100: Art Explorations: Scientific Illustration
  • MA 101: College Algebra or BI 101: Biological Diversity
  • SS 101: Sustainability & Social Institutions

Category 2 Modules:

  • WR 102: Writing & Rhetoric 2
  • BI 101: Biological Diversity or CH 110 Chemistry 1 (Expedition)
  • HI 123: Animal in Human History

In addition to students interested in Animal Care theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Captive Wildlife Care and Education

 

Mariculture

Natural Science Lens 

What biological and environmental factors have shaped mariculture – the cultivation of fish and marine life for food – in Maine? What are the possibilities, limits, benefits of, or drawbacks to the growth of this industry? How resilient is local mariculture in the face of climate change? These questions form the core of our expedition, which takes us to several coastal sites with active shellfish farming. Our studies will center on the biology and ecology of major coastal wildlife species, but we will also consider how farming salmon, kelp, and oysters inform peoples’ cultural and political activities.

Category 1 Modules:

  • WR 101: Writing & Rhetoric I or AR 103: Scientific Illustration
  • MA 101: College Algebra or BI 101: Biological Diversity
  • SS 101: Sustainability & Social Institutions

Category 2 Modules:

    • WR 102: Writing & Rhetoric 2
    • BI 101: Biological Diversity or CH 110 Chemistry 1 (Expedition)
    • EL 112: Maritime Literature

In addition to students interested in Mariculture theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Marine Biology

Category 3

Students enroll during either 6-week block of semester 2.

Green Business

Commerce and Enterprise Lens 

Successful business ventures must operate within boundaries defined by both the natural and human capital of the earth’s ecosystems. How successful are today’s business enterprises, from small to multi-national scales, at operating within these spaces? In this expedition, students will investigate some of the challenges of making a linear economy (make-use-dispose) more circular. In support of this goal, students will study matter-related paradigms such as ‘cradle-to-cradle’ and ‘waste equals food’, as well as energy-related paradigms like ‘solar income’ and ‘photosynthesis pays the bills’. They will also consider the roles played by government and public/consumer opinion in shaping business decisions. In the process, students will address these key questions:
● How do businesses develop plans that are mindful of the long term and competitive in the short term?
● How can business lead on sustainability issues?

Modules:

  • BI 102: Introduction to Evolution & Genetics
  • MA 102: Precalculus or MA 200: Applications in Mathematics: Theme
  • BU 101: Principles of Business Planning

In addition to students interested in Green Business theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Sustainable Business Enterprise

 

History of Wildlife and Place

The Human Experience Lens

What lives in Maine’s coastal ecosystems? How have humans and other animals encountered and understood these places? How can we communicate their stories to wider publics?

These questions lie at the heart of our expedition, which explores the shifting relationships between humans and wildlife along Maine’s coast. In making this journey, we will focus on the geologic formation of the coast, the social and ecological impacts of colonization, the rise and reshaping of Maine’s maritime industries, local art and folklore, and the most pressing questions facing the coast today. By considering the natural and human history of life along the Maine shore, we will move toward a larger understanding of why humans have been drawn across time and place to live at what Rachel Carson calls “the edge of the sea.”

One of our central premises will be that all things are interconnected. All too often, science courses teach students how plants and animals work but not how to communicate that knowledge to audiences who most need it. All too often, writing and art courses communicate ideas about nature without attending to the science that makes plants and animals work. All too often, math courses teach students to quantify things without attending to real-world application. We will try to discover the value of integrating these different perspectives, and argue that interdisciplinary study is absolutely crucial if one hopes to understand the past or address contemporary environmental issues.

Modules:

  • BI 102: Introduction to Evolution & Genetics
  • MA 102: Precalculus or MA 200: Applications in Mathematics: Theme
  • HI 119: History of the Maine Coast

In addition to students interested in the History of Wildlife and Place theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: 

 

Waters of the US: Policies and Impact

Natural Resource Policy and Law Lens

Wetlands and waterways provide clean water, habitat for fish and wildlife, and other essential ecosystem services, but they are often located in areas where people want to build, farm, or otherwise impact the landscape. How do we decide which wetlands and waterways in the U.S. should be protected? Who makes these decisions, how do they decide, and how and when are policies changed? What are the consequences of changing the definition of what areas are regulated as Waters of the U.S.?

This expedition will explore Waters of the U.S. from environmental, societal, economic, legal, and ecological perspectives. Students will visit wetlands and waterways in Maine, learn about their ecology and related ecosystem services, and interact with interested public and private organizations and governing bodies. Through this work, students will investigate the consequences of impacts to U.S. wetlands and waterways and learn how multiple stakeholders value and ultimately influence their fate.

Modules:

  • BI 102: Introduction to Evolution & Genetics
  • MA 102: Precalculus or MA 200: Applications in Mathematics: Theme
  • HI 105: Waters of the U.S. Policy and Ecology

In addition to students interested in Waters of the US: Policies and Impact theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: 

 

Wildlife and Place

Natural Science Lens

What lives in the woods and mountains of western Maine? How have flora and fauna in these ecosystems evolved over time? In what ways have humans made sense of these complex organisms, and how do wildlife policies reflect these understandings? These questions lie at the heart of our expedition, which takes us to “wilderness” areas around the state where we will study the biology, ecology, natural history, and classification of regionally significant game species.

One of our central premises will be that all things are interconnected, and that we can learn a great deal about nature, biology, and policy by studying them together. As that study unfolds, students will have opportunities to work with professionals across a range of resource-management fields and work with wildlife data in real-world contexts.

Modules:

    • BI 102: Introduction to Evolution & Genetics
    • MA 102: Precalculus or MA 200: Applications in Mathematics: Theme
    • SS 121: Cross Cultural Comparison of Wildlife Policies

In addition to students interested in Wildlife and Place theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Wildlife Biology, Wildlife and Fisheries Management

Category 4

Students enroll during either 6-week block of semester 2.

Renewable Energy

Commerce and Enterprise Lens 

Modern society has a large, and growing, demand for energy. The International Energy Administration predicted in 2019 that global energy consumption will rise nearly 50% between 2018 and 2050. While there are many options for energy generation, it is so-called ‘fossil’ sources (coal, oil, and natural gas) that currently supply most of the energy needed to meet global demand. Fossil energy resources are finite – there is only so much in the ground — and are responsible for environmental change and degradation at local to global scales. Therefore, society must envision a future where energy demand is met predominantly by non-finite and environmentally sustainable energy sources – so-called ‘renewables’.

This expedition will investigate the benefits and drawbacks of a suite of renewables, as well as barriers that must be overcome to make the transition to a renewables-dominated energy portfolio. In particular, this expedition will focus on the role of marketing in helping renewable energy enterprises to reach new customers. Northern New England and Maritime Canada will serve as testbeds for the exploration of content and concepts in this expedition.

Modules:

  • PY 102: Conservation Psychology
  • WR 103: Writing & Rhetoric 3
  • PS 199: Introduction to Sustainable Energy

In addition to students interested in Renewable Energy theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Sustainable Energy Management

 

Remaking Other People’s Plastic

The Human Experience Lens

Students in this expedition will address the psychological and social aspects of pollution, ranging from CO 2 to plastics. Students will explore what is currently being done throughout the world and will evaluate and communicate the effectiveness of these measures. Students should begin to question why humanity struggles with large problems and look to develop solutions focusing on the human side of pollution, not just the scientific or economic. By addressing opportunities and problems associated with one of the world’s most popular materials — plastic — students will communicate about the problem through an independent research project.

Modules:

  • PY 102: Conservation Psychology
  • WR 103: Writing & Rhetoric 3
  • CH 110: Chemistry

In addition to students interested in Remaking Other People’s Plastic theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: 

 

Natural Resource Advocacy

Natural Resource Advocacy Lens

Natural resource advocacy occurs at a complex intersection of environmental, social, and economic interests. They operate in private, public, and non-profit sectors and at local, state, federal, and global levels. Students will explore this complexity by delving into case studies of natural resource advocacy that deal with proposed resource use or anthropogenic climate change. Case studies may focus on aquaculture, energy development, sustainable forestry, and/or water quality. In the process, students will strive to understand the motivations of diverse stakeholders and convincingly communicate their own points of view. They will leave this expedition with a deeper understanding of the challenges, needs, approaches, and opportunities for natural resource advocacy in a complex world.

Modules:

  • PY 102: Conservation Psychology
  • WR 103: Writing & Rhetoric 3
  • ES 120: Making Sense of Climate Projections

In addition to students interested in Natural Resource Advocacy theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Parks and Forest Resources

 

(Un)Natural Disasters

Natural Science Lens

In this expedition, we will explore natural disasters from the perspectives of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Each week of the expedition will  center on a unique example of a natural disaster. Students will employ scientific analysis (focused exploration into weather and climate) and diverse communication skills (such as verbal debates and analytical and critical writing) as we seek to articulate causes and repercussions of natural disasters both quantitatively and qualitatively. We will have the opportunity to meet with and talk with experts addressing these issues and to observe the impact of these events firsthand in previously affected communities.

While we will learn the science behind these events, we will also explore how natural disasters are influenced by human decisions and how they affect the choices, outlooks, and experiences of societies and individuals. Students will delve into the human experience by investigating the driving factors behind human choices and decision making, as well as the complex social issues that determine the outcomes and futures for those who endure these events. Throughout this expedition, we will explore how anthropogenic actions connect with the severity of these events and their outcomes. This expedition challenges us to understand a natural disaster event as a multi-faceted experience with diverse and long-lasting consequences for the Earth, societies, and individuals.

Modules:

  • PY 102: Conservation Psychology
  • WR 103: Writing & Rhetoric 3
  • GL 111: Weather and Climate

In addition to students interested in (Un)Natural Disasters theme, students who are interested in exploring the following degree majors are encouraged to select this expedition: Earth and Environmental Science