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My Honors College

  • an inlet waterway

Semester at the Coast

In partnership with the Baruch Institute for Coastal and Marine Sciences, our “Semester at the Coast” program will host 10 UofSC students with interests in science, the environment or health. The semester will be an engaging and holistic experience with experiential courses, independent research and service projects and will include engaging excursions ranging from historical and archeological sites, cultural events and nature reserves.  Faculty from the University of South Carolina and Clemson University will share teaching and mentorship duties at the Baruch Institute located at the North Inlet Estuary in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

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Required Courses (15 credit hours total)

Prereq: None
Course Attribute: Honors Science/CC SCI, Honors BTC

DESCRIPTION:  This course will examine coastal and estuarine ecology using the relatively undisturbed North Inlet estuary, which is representative of other coastal ecosystems found throughout much of the southeastern US Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as a model system.  The intensive course will give students firsthand experience with current field and laboratory techniques commonly used in ecology research focusing on fishes and invertebrates (hereafter fishes) in a variety of habitats including intertidal and subtidal creeks, marsh pools, oyster reefs, and the surf zone.  Upon completion of the course, students will learn to 1) identify and understand the ecology, behavior, and life histories of common coastal and estuarine fishes, 2) recognize and understand the role of fishes at multiple temporal and spatial scales within the ecosystem, and 3) critically evaluate fish ecology experimental designs and research methods.  Considered together, this knowledge will help students better understand the role of estuarine and coastal ecosystems and the organisms they support in South Carolina and beyond. 

Prereq: None
Course Attribute: Honors Science/CC SCI, Honors BTC

DESCRIPTION:  This course provides an introduction to the factors that regulate the structure and function of coastal ecosystems in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Students will gain firsthand experience with project-based learning in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Topics range from population and community ecology to ecosystem ecology including themes of disturbance, invasive species, and climate change. Upon completion of the course, students will 1) demonstrate familiarity with coastal ecology; 2) recognize and comprehend natural and anthropogenic challenges/disturbances to coastal environments; 3) critically evaluate literature and formulate hypothesis driven questions; and 4) understand the basic principles of experimental design. Class discussions, current literature, and field trips will be used to encourage students to integrate lecture topics and achieve a comprehensive understanding of how the physical, chemical, and biological properties of coastal ecosystems regulate ecological processes.

Prereq: None
Course Attribute: Honors Science, Honors BTC

DESCRIPTION: This course will focus on field and laboratory research methodology via intensive project-based experiential learning opportunities focused on coastal issues. Projects will include coastal stormwater mitigation, coastal archeology, and estuarine fisheries management. In addition, the course will cover ethics in science, scientific communication, and professional development for early career researchers. Upon completion of the course, students will understand 1) general approaches applicable to all field and laboratory research endeavors; 2) the ethical conduct of research projects; 3) best practices in scientific communication.

Prereq: None
Course Attribute: Honors Humanities or Honors HistCiv/CC AIU, Honors BTC

DESCRIPTION:  This course will examine the unique culture and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry with a special focus on broader Gullah culture via historical sites on Hobcaw Barony as well as in Charleston and Georgetown, SC.  Experiential learning, often in the form of Field trips (e.g., Gullah Gullah Tours, Gullah Museum, Ft. Sumter, Hobcaw Barony archeological sites) and guest oral histories will be the primary vehicle for learning; with preliminary site research and rigorous reflection required by all students.  Local foods will also be explored as a route to gain perspective on coastal cultures. Upon completion of the course, students will understand 1) general Lowcountry history and how it has influenced culture, especially Gullah culture, since colonization; 2) how the unique coastal resources available and natural hazard frequency shaped Lowcountry cultures; 3) efforts currently being undertaken to preserve Lowcountry cultures and acknowledge the legacy of our past.

 

Optional Courses

  • Independent undergraduate research (SCHC 497, 3 credit hours)
  • Optional online asynchronous course from USC (3 credit hours)

These courses will explore critical social, economic, and environmental topics; including urbanization, sea level rise, climate change, coastal flooding, and other timely subjects.  Our lab sits within a chain of relatively preserved landscapes at the intersection of the 14th and 2nd fastest growing metropolitan areas in the US. This semester will prepare students to address the challenges and opportunities of our rapidly developing coasts.

 

Baruch Course Equivalents

The following courses count as approved major-level courses:

  • Coastal and Estuarine Ecology
  • Ecosystems of the SC Lowcountry 

The following courses count as approved minor courses:

  • Coastal and Estuarine Ecology
  • Ecosystems of the SC Lowcountry 

The following courses can serve as major selective credit:

  • Coastal and Estuarine Ecology
  • Ecosystems in the South Carolina Lowcountry
  • Field and Laboratory Research Methods

The independent Study – SCHC 497 – depending on content, may be acceptable for major selective credit.

Any 2 of the 4 courses below can be used towards major electives:

  • Coastal and Estuarine Ecology
  • Ecosystems in the South Carolina Lowcountry
  • Field and Laboratory Research Methods
  • Lowcountry Culture and History

Requires 6 hours of electives, and any of the courses below can be used towards the minor:

  • Coastal and Estuarine Ecology
  • Ecosystems in the South Carolina Lowcountry
  • Field and Laboratory Research Methods
  • Lowcountry Culture and History
Requires 6 hours of electives and any of the courses below can be used toward the minor.
  • Coastal and Estuarine Ecology
  • Ecosystems in the South Carolina Lowcountry
  • Field and Laboratory Research Methods

The independent Study – SCHC 497 – depending on content, may be acceptable for minor selective credit.

 

Honors Semester at the Coast Faculty

William Strosnider, ecological engineer and director of the Baruch Marine Field Lab, will serve as co-director of the Semester at the Coast program and teach the Field and Laboratory Research Methods course, and the Lowcountry and Culture course.

Matthew Kimball, fisheries ecologist and assistant director of the Baruch Marine Field Lab, will serve as the co-director of the Semester at the Coast program overseeing day-to-day program activities.  Kimball will also teach the Coastal and Estuarine Ecology course.

Stephanie Whitmire, biogeochemist and research scientist with Clemson University, will teach the Ecosystems of the South Carolina Lowcountry course.

Bruce Pfirrmann, fisheries scientist and research resource specialist with Baruch Marine Field Lab, will assist with the field components of all courses.
Robert Dunn, an ecologist who is interested in coastal and marine ecosystems uses his research to apply elcological principles to questions with conservation, management and restoration applications.  Dunn will co-teach the Field and Laboratory Research Methods class with William Strosnider.

 

Program Benefits

Students will be provided a single room in the Baruch Marine Field Laboratory dormitory.

Dinners (included in program fee) Monday through Thursday will be coordinated group events focused on Lowcountry cuisine and natural resources.

Regional guest chef will be invited to cook with the students on location monthly.

The dorm has a full kitchen where students can store food and prepare their own meals for breakfast, lunch and weekends while on-site.

Field trip meals will be provided.

Fire pit gatherings
Fishing in the Kimbel Pond
Biking / running from the Kimbel Center to Clambank Landing
Sports and games

  • Disc golf / bocce / ping-pong / volleyball / basketball / beanbag toss / can-jam / kickball / soccer / ultimate frisbee / flag football

Marsh boardwalk meditations
Lab projector movie nights
Stargazing campouts
One local cultural music event hosted in our small conference center.

Course-related

  • Hobcaw Barony
  • North Inlet/Island
  • Winyah Bay
  • Yawkey Wildlife Preserve
  • Huntington Beach State Park
  • Santee National Wildlife Refuge
  • Francis Marion State Park
  • Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge
  • Ace Basin Wildlife Refuge
  • Georgetown Gullah Museum
  • Charleston Harbor
  • Georgetown Harbor
  • and more

Program-related

  • Myrtle Beach
  • Charleston Downtown
  • Murrells Inlet
  • and more

 

More Details

Projects will tie into ongoing research and result in scientifically valuable results.

Research projects may include:

  • Floating treatment wetland design and application.
  • Coastal fisheries research, with a focus on juvenile fish.
  • Microplastics and the coastal environment.
  • Larval fish and invertebrate dynamics over time.

Participating students will submit abstracts to Discover USC for on-campus presentations that will hopefully springboard to subsequent presentations at national or regional conferences. 

UofSC Tuition
All courses associated with the program are UofSC courses and students will pay tuition directly to UofSC through the regular channels.

Program Fee: $5,500

The program fee includes the following:

  • Single room lodging in Baruch dormitory
  • Meals (Mon.-Thurs. group dinners, meals during weekly field trips, one local guest chef per month)
  • Extensive access to Baruch facilities
  • Transportation for program excursions (i.e., boat, boat captain, truck, van)
  • Staff support and program extras (i.e., local musicians, sporting equipment, other cultural events)

*Rate is available for both Honors and non-Honors students. Non-Honors students must have a 3.5 GPA to participate in the program.

To secure your placement, submit a $500 deposit. (Spots will fill quickly, so the earlier you deposit, the better!) Deposit deadline is October 31, 2022. 

For more information, contact Kevin Metcalf at Kevin@sc.edu.

 


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