The Maine Coastal Odyssey

Core Seminars in Environmental Liberal Arts

At UMM, students are engaged in a new and exciting curriculum—one that applies the traditional liberal arts to issues of environmental and community sustainability. In focusing on Environmental Liberal Arts, we explore central questions in the relationships between people and nature. We highlight the ways multiple disciplines can guide our understanding of the complex situations we face in the 21st Century. We find that the combination of critical thinking and communication skills provided by this curriculum is an excellent complement to the hands-on learning and close mentoring provided by our major fields of study. Together, they prepare our students for lifelong success and the ability to make a difference in the world.

At the heart of the ELA curriculum is a series of core seminars, we call “The Maine Coastal Odyssey.” Beginning in their first semester at UMM, students delve into interdisciplinary courses that provide a sense of place and purpose for their next four years. The faculty introduce students to this stunning coastal region and the unique communities and resources of Downeast Maine.



Students kayak in the Atlantic Ocean near Machias.

Recreation and Wellness

This course introduces new students to the unique recreation opportunities in Downeast Maine. It further develops their appreciation for the connection between personal wellness and outdoor exploration. Students gain outdoor skills while reading, discussing and reflecting on the role of outdoor recreation experiences on personal health, as well as in fostering environmental stewardship.



Students examine seaweed on Maine's coast.

Natural Environments

Students participate in field-based scientific inquiry related to varying local environments. Students gain familiarity with flora, fauna, and ecosystems in Downeast Maine. Each offering focuses on the applications of one or more of the following natural science disciplines:  zoology, botany, chemistry, ecology, oceanography, or geology.




GIS Director Tora Johnson assists a student with a community mapping project.

Community and Place

Students engage in community-centered activities designed to enhance understanding of social structures. They learn about the social, cultural, and economic environments of Downeast Maine. Students gain an appreciation for the ways disciplines such as anthropology, economics, ethnography, social psychology, or sociology can inform our understanding of the human experience.



Students read outside

Humans and Nature

Based on a wide selection of exemplary writings from diverse times, cultures, and academic disciplines, this course examines understandings of the relationship between humans and nature. By reading, discussing, analyzing, and critiquing the readings, students learn how different disciplines and cultures approach such issues. They develop critical reading and writing skills while exploring how assumptions, questions, and methods shape disciplinary approaches and cultural understanding.



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