Back On the Ranch

View of the Mystic River, taken from the historic downtown drawbridge.
View of the Mystic River, taken from the historic downtown drawbridge.

A couple of weeks have passed since our grand Hawaiian expedition came to a close, and it seems that the adventures from now on will be purely intellectual.  In other words, the days of stress have arrived.

After such a packed schedule on our trip, we had a long weekend and some days of respite that were well appreciated.  Just a week later came Family Weekend, where we students got the chance to show our folks around and gain a new appreciation of Mystic through our visitors’ eyes (and maybe get a free dinner or two).

But for the most part, it’s been back to business.  Now that our field seminars are finished, final projects are becoming reality.  One of the first things to attend to as we shifted back into gear was the Marine Policy research paper.  The first step was a proposal submission, which we completed before heading to Hawai’i; the next step has been to contact people who are involved or know about our subjects.  We have a pretty wide array of topics, with coastal land rights, invasive species, and protection of endangered species among the issues being explored.

Policy has been on our minds even more this week, because it’s Moot Court week.  Every semester, students receive a briefing on an actual case and are assigned to one side or the other for a simulation of Appellate Court procedure.  This year’s case is between private landowners in Maine and the town of Wells.  In most states, private beach property does not reach below the high water mark, but in Massachusetts and Maine, it extends to the low water mark.  The town of Wells in this case argues for the public right to recreate in this intertidal zone, whereas the landowners consider the allowance of such recreation a taking of their property.  It’s been a somewhat rigorous week of preparation.  In addition to readings, we’ve had evening meetings to work on our arguments, guided by Katy and fellow Rhode Island lawyer Brian Wagner.  The court meets Friday morning—I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Unfortunately we haven’t had any more lab field trips for Oceanography and Marine Ecology.  That time instead is now reserved for independent research, to be used in our final projects for those classes.  Oh, the samples to be taken.  And we can’t forget the other two final projects: History and Literature.  We’ve just selected topics for our final history papers, which will draw from primary sources in the Mystic Seaport archives.  For Literature we’ll each choose a book to read and compare with the material we’ve covered together in class.  But that will have to wait just a little longer, because our reading assignment this weekend is none other than that spectacular tome of cetological brilliance, Moby-Dick.  Buckle up, baby.


Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

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