UGAMI Summer Classes
UGAMI has been in a frenzy lately. Summer is always a busy time of year here; faculty, students, and technicians flock to Sapelo Island to conduct field research. However, the number of students coming to UGAMI, especially in the summer, has been growing. UGAMI hosts 600-700 undergraduates per year, for everything from weekend field trips to month-long residential courses. And we are expanding our course offerings, giving even more students an opportunity to study at Sapelo Island.
Professor Nik Heynen (UGA Dept. of Geography) taught the inaugural edition of his Geography of the Georgia Coast Domestic Field Study Program at UGAMI, which consists of two courses, GEOG 2610: Geography of Georgia and GEOG 4630: Urban Political Ecology. This program focuses on service learning, working on sustainable agriculture with members of the Hog Hammock Community.
Doctors Chuck Hopkinson and Damon Gannon co-taught the Coastal Summer Semester. Students in the Coastal Summer Semester take two courses, MARS 4500: Field Study in Oceanography and Marine Methods and an independent research course (either MARS 4510: Field Study in Oceanography and Marine Methods – Independent Research or BIOL 4960: Undergraduate Research in Biology). Fondly referred to as “Marine Science Boot Camp,” this intensive program kept students busy all day, every day for a month.
In addition to our residential courses and our normal flow of university class field trip groups, UGA’s Georgia Fishes Field Study (FISH 4650) and Interdisciplinary Field Program each spent a week studying at UGAMI.
Courses at UGAMI are truly special, and are unlike most other courses taught in a university curriculum. Students become immersed in their studies: they take one or two courses at a time, in which the lecture, field, and lab components are seamlessly integrated; they sleep within a few steps of the laboratory and within a stone’s throw from the ocean, so they tend to be engaged in their studies day and night; they are surrounded by fellow undergraduate students, grad students, technicians, and faculty who share their interest and passion for the sea; because they are living and working together with faculty and other researchers at UGAMI, they get to see what the job of a professional scientist is really like and they develop a network of mentors; and at UGAMI , normal distractions of daily life are minimized, allowing them to focus on their academic interests. It’s not all work and no play; the beauty of UGAMI is that work and play often blend together. For example, it’s not uncommon for students and faculty to have in-depth conversations about science while playing volleyball or sitting around the dinner table. This sort of informal interaction is uncommon on university campuses, but UGAMI provides the space and time for students and faculty to get to know one another outside the classroom, leading to more meaningful experiences for all. Comments from the students in Coastal Summer Semester reflect the special nature of the courses taught at UGAMI:
- “I rarely had down time but that’s not a bad thing. Loved every moment.”
- “I liked everything I learned and the connections I’ve made. I now have a clear idea of what I want to do.”
- “Everyone was amazing & helpful! I can honestly say this has been the best experience I’ve had with professors & faculty.”
- “Thank you for this opportunity. Definitely want to come back and study here in the future. Going to miss you guys!”
It has been a very busy summer for students and faculty at UGAMI. Even as summer has a long way to go, plans are already being made for UGAMI’s 2018 courses.