Clarkson University is currently establishing the Adirondack Center for Education and Sustainability at 245 Lake Flower Ave. in Saranac Lake and will be the home of the college’s new program called the Adirondack Semester.
Clarkson University students will be moving into their new mini-campus on Lake Flower Avenue next week to spend the fall semester studying the Adirondack Park.
The Potsdam-based college has set up the Adirondack Center for Education and Sustainability at 245 Lake Flower Ave., a complex that includes the former business spaces for Cherrie Sayles Realty and Bling (two separate buildings), which will be used for student housing. The garage in the back has been remodeled for classroom space. This property is now the headquarters for Clarkson’s new Adirondack Semester.
“It’s going to be accommodating for students that are interested in environmental science, political science, business and entrepreneurship, and social sciences,” said Adirondack Semester Program Coordinator Michael Dinan.
The Adirondack Semester is designed for students who are looking for a full semester experience in the Adirondack Park — students who would typically study abroad during their junior and senior years. But it’s not just open to Clarkson students; Dinan hopes to have students from all over the country study the Adirondack Park in this program.
“We’re trying to make it a multi-spectrum program to entice students from other universities to come here,” Dinan said.
Clarkson hopes to give students a program that will help them get hired for the many “green” jobs that are now being created in the workforce.
“We see that there’s a demand for green-collar jobs, so we think we can provide an experience for students that will translate to real-world job situations when they graduate from this program,” Dinan said. “They’ll see the scope of environmental science. They’ll see social sciences, the policies and the business aspects of the Adirondack Park. It’s really a study of the Adirondack Park: how it came to be what it is, what it is now and prospects on the future of the Park.”
St. Lawrence University in Canton also offers an Adirondack Semester for its students; however, they live in a yurt village at Massawepie Lake west of Tupper Lake and immerse their students in a “wilderness” setting. Clarkson is offering a more civilized option.
“We wanted to be in Saranac Lake,” Dinan said. “It is more urban. We’re closer to DEC. We’re closer to town meetings. We’re closer to people. They’ll be around village people as opposed to being in a yurt with a few other students. Saranac Lake is a dynamic place. It’s a place for recreation and conservation.”
Clarkson’s Adirondack Semester is 15-credit exchange program: six credits in environmental science, six credits in liberal arts/humanities and three credits tailored to a student’s major as part of a research project in which they’ll write a white paper on an issue related to their field of study.
“For example, we could do a great project where we could look at what happened in Tupper Lake with the development there,” Dinan said.
An environmental science student could look at the way the developers are planning for their wastewater treatment. A sociology student could talk to residents asking their opinions on the project. A political science student could go to the Adirondack Park Agency to look at rules and regulations and talk to the mayor to ask why it’s important to have the development.
“So they’ll get all the facts, all the information, and they’ll present solutions for the conflict, if there is a conflict,” Dinan said. “It’s a solution-focused kind of research paper.”
The curriculum for the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters features seven, two-week modules plus a final week when student teams present their comprehensive research project. They’ll take the following courses: Plant Science of the Adirondacks, Aquatic Science of Adirondack Region, Adirondack Ecology & Natural History, Adirondack Integrated Research Project, Adirondack Regional Economic Development, Adirondack Environmental Science, Adirondack Outdoor Recreation, Adirondack Energy & Environmental Policy, Social & Political Issues in the Adirondacks, Literature of the Adirondacks and Where the Wild Things Are.
Clarkson University is looking to serve about 12 students in this program, and the first students move into their Saranac Lake rooms on Aug. 24, according to Dinan. They’ll live with a teacher’s assistant to supervise and help direct studies, and Clarkson faculty will teach the courses.
The itinerary for their first few days includes a rafting trip on the Hudson River, a canoe trip from Rollins Pond to their mini-campus on Lake Flower, a hiking trip in the High Peaks, and a two-day car tour to visit as many towns, villages and hamlets as they can.
For more information, visit www.clarkson.edu/adksemester.