Renewable Energy Design and Analysis

Teaches the skills and knowledge necessary for the design and analysis of renewable energy designs on a variety of scales; from individual appliances through single family homes to regional power plants. On the ground measurements are coupled with computer spreadsheets and established values for analysis. Hydroelectric, wind, biomass, geothermal, biomass and solar (both thermal and electric) sources are studied.  Background content in thermodynamics and the design process inform design projects that minimize environmental impacts. Projects this year include improvements to the existing barn PV system and other campus improvements.

Field Ecology

This course teaches students to pose questions about ecological phenomena, construct hypotheses, collect appropriate data in the field to test these hypotheses, and then to descriptively and quantitatively analyze these data, concluding with interpreting and presenting this information. This hands-on class will familiarize students with transferable tools and skills used to investigate ecological problems.


This course is an introduction to geology and geomorphic processes. Students are introduced to rock types, degradational forces, the geologic time scale, plate tectonics, geologic evolution of landscapes, and major landforming processes such as fluvial geomorphology, periglacial processes, and glacial geology. This course is a global survey but pays special attention to the physical landscapes of the circumpolar regions and Northeastern North America. Course format includes lectures, discussions, and regular field excursions.

Natural History of the North Woods

This course is a field-based exploration of the flora and vegetation of the North Woods, with an emphasis on the ecological interplay between temperate deciduous and boreal forest biomes. Students build on foundational principles of natural history and ecology through development and practice of observation, identification, and interpretation skills and the keeping of a refined naturalist field journal. Topics include a botanical survey of woody plant families and representative species, natural community composition and structure, biogeographic concepts, ecological succession, identification and classification skills (including an introduction to botanical keys, as well as extensive use of other types of field guides), and the history and philosophy of Natural History. Course format includes lectures, discussions, and a significant field component.

Human Nutrition

Examines a whole foods approach to nutrition along with an understanding of the chemical and biochemical properties of food and their interactions within the body. Considers the political, social and environmental influences of the foods we choose to eat. Designed to help students focus on their own eating practices and evaluate those in relationship to sustainable practices.

Watershed Ecosystems Analysis

The course will provide students with an understanding of the ecological, social, and political aspects of a watershed. Combining a study of stream ecology and land use, we will gain a better understanding of the multifaceted ecosystems within a watershed and our relationship to these ecosystems. Throughout the course, we will read and discuss watershed issues, as well as collect and analyze biological and cultural resources field data. Each student will participate in the Black River Bioassessment, resulting in a comprehensive written report.


This course examines the ecological foundations of sustainable agriculture practice to foster an understanding of the management and design of sustainable agroecosystems. Using a whole-system and multi-disciplinary approach students will analyze and design agricultural systems both locally and globally while considering the triple bottom line. It includes an overview of sustainable agriculture practices both historic and modern.

Literature of the Rural Experience

Like their urban counterparts, rural areas have historically been a nexus of cultural intersection-places where migrants and immigrants have come for work, farming the land, mining resources, harvesting timber, and thereby creating new lives, as well as places where urban dwellers seek recreation and refuge from city life.  Such intersections have given rise both to tensions (between native and newcomer, tradition and change, different class and cultural values) and to vibrant and diverse communities.  This course considers how people from different backgrounds have responded to rural living, as well as how literature has both reflected and shaped rural cultures.How do stories, poems, songs, and films represent both what is unique and what is universal about rural experiences? Looking at images of rural life in literature will enable us to examine the influence that literature has had on the ways we understand and interact with rural communities, as well as the role that literature (particularly story and music) plays in rural lives. This course satisfies three credits of a students writing-intensive requirement.

Introduction to Cultural Ecology

This course is an exploration of the diversity of cultures and their relationship with the natural world.  For over a million years human beings have co-evolved with the landscapes they inhabit, resulting in a positive re-enforcing feedback loop in which the natural world influences the development of people and, in turn, people influence the natural world.  The human species is unique in that it has colonized every major biome of the Earth, creating complex lifeways and perceptions of reality.  Using examples of peoples from around the world, we will explore definitions and origins of culture and civilization, particularly in relation to place.  We investigate concepts such as material culture, social structure, economics, language and migration. Students will also be introduced to investigative methods in the fields of cultural anthropology and human geography.

Papermaking/Book Arts in Place (ST)

This special topics course will examine the place of papermaking in an increasingly paperless (and placeless) culture. The creation of handmade paper from a variety of locally gathered materials is central to this course, which will be rounded out by ancillary forays into papermaking’s history, traditions, underlying science, and artistic possibilities. Students will learn the techniques involved with papermaking: Including pulp preparation, basic sheet formation, coloring, sizing, pressing and drying. The course will also focus on the construction of artists’ books. Learning various binding techniques will allow students to design and create a short artist’s book illustrating their concept of place.

Pottery (ST)

Pottery I is a thorough, hands-on,  exploration of hand-built pottery techniques.  Students will explore and develop some mastery with pinched, coiled and slab-built pottery.  We will focus on functional, sculptural and musical forms.  A brief introduction to the potter’s wheel will conclude the class.  Surface design and glazing/firing techniques will be covered.  This is an intensive, studio based, skill building workshop. Students should expect to spend 2 1/2-3 hours a day after class in the studio to complete assignments.   Assignments outside of the studio will take about 20 minutes/day.

Independent Study in Humanities

Independent studies are available to students who have completed 45 credits. Advised by full-time faculty, these provide students the opportunity to pursue in more depth a focused topic not otherwise available in the curriculum. Independent studies may be proposed at the 200, 300, or 400 level for between 1 and 12 credits. Independent studies go through a rigorous approval process and must meet specific criteria in order to be approved. Proposals for independent studies of two or more credits must be approved the prior semester. Proposals for independent studies of one credit will be considered until the first day of an intensive session or the first week of a long-block session. For more details about the independent study proposal process, see the online submission form.

Please note that independent study is not available for topics already offered through classes.