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Summester at the Coast
The Summester at the Coast

May 21st - June 17th, 2014 on the Outer Banks, North Carolina
Hosted by the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, Manteo, NC
With academic credit provided through East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Questions can be addressed to J.P. Walsh,, (252) 480-8582x228

Overview: The coast is where land and sea meet. It provides habitat for a diversity of life, and is home for many people, in small towns to large cities. Coasts can experience gentle breezes and violent storms, and these conditions bring recreation and tourism
View of the Outer Banks, looking north from Nags Head, NC.  The area has beautiful beaches.  opportunities as well as damaging and dangerous hazards. Coastal areas are environmentally and economically complex and are best understood by living at them and seeing and experiencing their climate and culture. The coast of North Carolina is unique yet has similarities to many other areas, with an array of processes that cause constant change and societal needs that challenge sustainability. The UNC Coastal Studies Institute plans to host a summer semester program that exposes students to coastal living and enables them to learn disciplinary fundamentals and about interdisciplinary issues.
The Summester at the Coast will give ~20 students a once-in-a
-lifetime opportunity to reside and study on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for one month. The program will occur from mid-May to mid-June, a period typically with warm, pleasant weather and low tourist activity. The classes are designed at the freshmen-sophomore level with no prerequisites and should be accepted as elective and possibly major credit at most universities. Students will be responsible for ensuring credit is awarded at their home institutions.

Students study the NC coast Application: Acceptance into the program will be competitive, based on academic performance and the student’s application narrative. Undergraduates from non-UNC schools are encouraged to apply and will enjoy living in the scenic and historic area. We look forward to the involvement of a group of students with a diverse background and life experiences. Students may apply to the program at any time. Application screening will start January 15th and will continue until courses are filled. Please email to let us know about your interest in the program.  You can obtain an application directly by clicking HERE. Upon acceptance and enrollment into the program, a non-refundable deposit will be required (this will be applied towards the program's cost). Full payment for the program will be due before the start of classes. Also, non-ECU students will need to apply to become vising ECU students ($75 fee).

Students interested in participating in the program must enroll in two 3-credit classes (a morning and afternoon class), and participation in the 1-credit field trip course is strongly advised. Course credit will be provided through East Carolina University. Core classes will meet daily (Monday-Thursday) from 9 AM-Noon and 1-4 PM. In 2014 four core course options (with enrollment limited to ~20) will be available but these are subject to change depending on enrollment:

Morning (Monday-Thursday, 9AM-12 PM)
The Atlantic Ocean and the Mid-Atlantic Coast (3 credits)
This class will review the history and oceanography of the Atlantic Ocean and will examine the morphology of and processes affecting the mid-Atlantic region using North Carolina as an example. The focus will extend from the Paleozoic to present and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The terrestrial, estuarine and oceanographic processes causing coastal change and associated sedimentation and stratigraphy will be discussed. The class will use nearby depositional environments as context for the discussion, and the co-requisite lab (1 credit) will involve related field trips.

Maritime Heritage of the Outer Banks (3 credits)
This course will introduce students to the study of maritime heritage resources and their management via the historical and archaeological resources of North Carolina’s Outer Banks region. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the fields of maritime archaeology, coastal history and cultural resource management. Emphasized in this course is the research potential of maritime heritage sites, the processes affecting their conservation within the environment, and how experts from many fields play critical roles in making decisions regarding their use and preservation. The course includes hands-on experience in local research repositories and at nearby heritage sites. Experience and knowledge gained over the course must contribute to a student research paper and presentation.

Afternoon (Monday-Thursday, 1-4 PM)
Analysis Techniques and Methods of Coastal Ocean Research (3 credits)
This course will introduce students to lab and field methods used toField trips will be taken to local beaches, bays, marshes and even the Gulf Stream! examine oceanographic processes through hands-on experience. The goal of this course is to develop an understanding of the approach and tools used in scientific investigations on a variety oceanographic topics and give insight into the challenges faced in ocean research. Field work will be accomplished through land- or sea-based site visits to nearby coastal environments. Students will conduct a research project that involves sample collection, analysis, report generation and presentation.

Managing Natural Resources at the Coast: Introduction to Economic and Sustainable Design Approaches (3 credits)

This class offers an overview of social science approaches to managing natural resources and environmental quality in coastal environments. A portion of the class will focus on how an understanding of coastal natural science concepts and principles can inform economically feasible and sustainable design for communities and landscapes. The remainder of the class will use social science approaches to explore how existing theory and data inform individual and policy choices that determine the way that coastal communities deal with natural resource conflicts and change. The unifying theme in the class will be the way that adaptive choices lead to different outcomes. Students will gain an understanding of both the importance and complexity of sustainability, and of the way that different academic and professional approaches contribute to both greater understanding and improved choices in coastal communities. It will combine lecture / discussion, simulations and role-playing, design exercises, and field trips to provide a stimulating and rewarding introduction to sustainable coastal communities.

Field-Trip Lab Class (Friday)

The Atlantic Ocean and the Mid-Atlantic Coast Lab (1 credit)
In this one-credit class students will experience first-hand a variety of different coastal environments that typify the Mid-Atlantic coast and will study their governing processes. During four day-long field trips, students will explore and analyze different coastal environments of northeastern North Carolina, specifically:
• Coastal plain rivers and wetlands (e.g., Roanoke or Tar River),

The R/V Riggs will be used to study and explore adjacent estuarine waters. • Albemarle or Pamlico Sound (using the R/V Riggs, pictured)
• the Outer Banks (including beaches, dunes, marshes and inlets), and
• the Atlantic Ocean and its continental margin aboard a charter
Tailored readings and assignments will help students learn about and understand the coast, its evolution and its potential change in the future.

Tuition (including Room): The Summester at the Coast will be an affordable educational experience for undergraduates. Costing an estimated $2,500 for the 7-credit program (not including ECU’s $75 Visiting Student Application Fee). Note, this cost does NOT include board (i.e., meals). Students will need to provide for themselves.

Classes and Accommodations:
Class lectures and lab work will be held in the soon-to-be completed new UNC CSI campus, which is ideally situated (see location below) and will include a 50,000 ft2 research/education building with state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. Students participating in the Summester will be housed in a nearby facility operated by the Friends of Elizabeth II. The well-maintained two-story building in Manteo, NC contains clean and comfortable bedrooms, a common kitchen & laundry room, 2 common living areas and several porches with rocking chairs. It is a smoke-free facility with no pets allowed. Students will share two-bedroom suites. Each suite has a connecting bathroom and two rooms with two twin beds and desks. There are large well-equipped common kitchen facilities. Students will be responsible for doing their laundry, purchasing their food and cooking their meals. Shared living areas are found on both levels. Each has a roomy seating area with a television and DVD player. A telephone is provided in each living area. Internet service is available free of charge. Quiet hours are observed from midnight to 8:00 AM.  Area beaches and attractions are a short drive away.  Learn more about Outer Banks attractions at  

TO APPLY: Fill out and email this application form to

UNC-CSI Research and Education CampusUNC-CSI is located on the Outer Banks.
© Copyright 2014
UNC Coastal Studies Institute
UNC Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345, Wanchese, NC 27981 tel. 252-475-5400 fax 252- 475-3545