For most college students, early December means late nights spent studying in the library and early mornings spent poring over exam booklets.
For Fall 2018 students at Williams-Mystic, the end of the semester might involve recommending sustainable oyster farming methods to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, or suggesting ways the California State Lands Commission can incorporate social justice into its plans for coping with sea level rise.
These are just two examples of how Fall 2018 students have, as part of their marine policy class, partnered with outside organizations to craft solutions to real-world marine and coastal policy issues.
The students are working as part of the Williams-Mystic Marine and Coastal Policy Research Group, made up of four small teams. Each small group partners with a different organization. This semester, these client organizations included: Save the Bay, an environmental advocacy group for Rhode Island’s Narraganset Bay; the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, a nonprofit land conservation organization focused on Maryland’s Eastern Shore; the California State Lands Commission; and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, a nonprofit marine science center and research institute.
Each team completed research that culminated in a policy brief, which offers concrete solutions for the small group’s client organization to implement.
In crafting these policy briefs, the student researchers drew on knowledge from their marine policy class. They interviewed dozens of stakeholders, including attorneys, congressional staffers, commercial fishermen, and scientists.
The students also incorporated knowledge from a variety of disciplines. The group working with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, for instance, used a variety of ecological models to assess how oyster aquaculture might affect coastal ecosystems in Maine. Students working with the California State Lands Commission, meanwhile, investigated tools the Commission could use to identify environmental justice communities.
This week, the students’ work culminated not just in four policy briefs (look below to read the briefs in full!), but also in presentations to each of the four client organizations. At several of these organizations, students connected with Williams-Mystic alumni, including Jonathan Labaree (S’84) at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.