Seven Summits: the nature of New England as observed from its hills and peaks. Winter 2023

Class Details

In this course we will take to the hills and mountains of our region in order to gain a better understanding of New England’s amazing geographic and biological diversity. Much of this variety owes to geological processes – tectonic events, ice ages, erosion and soil formation — that have been playing out for eons. In what ways have these forces transformed and influenced the landscapes and ecosystems that we see today? From piney ridges and spruce-clad summits to moist hardwood forests, shrubby swamps and broad valleys, the story is in the hills. In addition to covering some basic geology and meteorology, we will decipher the common trees and shrubs of the region and how they tend to form distinct ecological communities based on their different physiographic attributes. We will also take a look into the lives of the animals — mammals, birds, and perhaps even insects! — that inhabit these rigorous environments in winter. Lastly we will consider the role of humans, both in adapting to and influencing these landscapes. Through field trips, readings, discussions, personal observations, and assignments, you will increase your awareness and appreciation of the natural heritage of the region that you have made your recent home. More than half of the class will be spent outdoors, sometimes venturing far-afield. Therefore, students should expect to be away from campus well beyond normal class hours — including for an overnight night trip. Most excursions will be moderate in pace and difficulty, so you need not be an avid outdoors-person to take part; if you are able to hike/showshoe 5-6 miles in winter conditions, and bring a healthy dose of enthusiasm, you should be fine. No special equipment will be necessary.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 8
Expected: NA
Class#: 1138
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Final project or presentation. Several written assignments in addition to a final project and presentation on a topic of the student's choosing. Final project may take a variety of forms.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Preference will be given to students with a demonstrated interest in the subject and those without potential scheduling conflicts. A statement of interest may be required.
Unit Notes: Drew Jones is Manager of Hopkins Memorial Forest where he coordinates research, education, and maintenance activities. Previously he has worked as a wildlife biologist and environmental educator from the southern appalachians to the north woods.
Materials/Lab Fee: $270
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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