Marine Ecosystems in the Balance: Protecting a Changing Estuary

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 13, 2020 - July 24, 20207/13 - 7/24M-F 8:30A-11:20A; Week 1: W&F 12:30-3:05 & Week 2 M&W 12:30-3:05OpenJennifer Kelly

Course Description

Narraganset Bay, Rhode Island’s huge and important estuary, is home to a large community of plants and animals including eelgrass, algae, crabs, fish, and seals. Estuaries, where the rivers meet the sea, are the foundation of life in marine systems and are considered to be one of the most productive and biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Today, estuaries are threatened by challenges created by human activities like climate change, invasive species, and impacts to water quality. Throughout this two-week course, Narragansett Bay will serve as a living laboratory and case study where students will learn about the Bay's important functions and how it and other estuaries are impacted by very real threats. Students will learn what can be done to address climate, environmental, and other threats to estuaries.

Throughout this course, students will be immersed in learning about a diversity of habitats that together make up Narragansett Bay, and through these studies use the bay as a model for estuaries globally. They will learn how estuaries function as well as the important impact estuaries have on all marine systems. Students will also explore and investigate how the Bay is negatively impacted by human activities.

Students will engage in lab and field work, as well as reading and writing assignments and group presentations. As a culminating project, students will select a topic relating to coastal restoration and resiliency close to home, and be tasked with generating a grant proposal in response to a Request for Proposals from our staff. This exercise will serve as the lens through which students will view the course, tying together their work over the two weeks, and provide concrete experience in more scientific and professional writing.

This course will take place, each day, at the non-profit organization, Save the Bay Center, 100 Save the Bay Drive, located in Providence, RI and nestled along the shore of Narragansett Bay. (

Most of the course includes outdoor, hands-on learning activities either on board an educational vessel or at coastal locations throughout Narragansett Bay.

Students will gain an understanding for how to utilize water quality monitoring equipment to collect accurate and precise data. They will learn to read, interpret, and analyze these data in a collaborative manner, and leave being able to teach others about both their findings and threats to estuaries. The data collection techniques learned throughout this course will prepare students for a future college coursework and a career in an environmental science field.

Prerequisites: It is expected that students have an interest in marine science, ecology, and habitat restoration.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEES0603
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

STEM for Rising 9th and 10th Graders

Two-week, non-credit residential program focused on STEM subjects and taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 8-9 by June 2020; minimum age of 14 and maximum age of 15 by the start of the program.

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