Students on a Crabbing Boat

Center for Environment & Society

Through experiential learning, community and civic engagement, and research, CES prepares undergraduates to solve the most pressing issues facing the future of our planet and its people.

The Center for Environment & Society serves as a bridge between Washington College and the rich natural and human resources of the region. Lecture series, workshops, films and seminars provide new perspectives and professional development opportunities for the campus and the larger community. Competitively awarded student fellowships put students to work on real-world problems, allowing them to build a resume and establish connections in the professional world. In the innovative Chesapeake Semester, students range throughout the watershed, exploring the people, places and issues of the Chesapeake Bay in all of their complexity. The Center supports faculty teaching and research through collaboration and by providing access to a variety of resources. It also has led the College in meeting its obligations under the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, while acting as a catalyst in campus recycling, energy savings and the search for alternative energy. The knowledge gained in this effort has been transferred into surrounding municipalities and counties, allowing them to achieve significant cost-savings, while lowering their carbon footprints.

Chesapeake Places acknowledges that to understand the present and where we are headed, we need to understand where we have been. It melds cultural and natural resource management, with an additional emphasis on eco- and heritage tourism as an important regional economic engine.

The River & Field Campus (RAFC) offers 5,000 acres of farmland and forests for research and conservation, as well as 300 acres of experimental grasslands and the Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory. These resources broaden research and teaching opportunities and strengthen the College’s link to the Eastern Shore’s working landscape and agriculture. It will in the future be the home of a student-run farm.

The Natural Lands Project is a large-landscape effort to restore native grasses, wetlands, and forest throughout the region, on private and public lands. With its grasslands model based on the successful restoration at RAFC, this effort to improve biodiversity and water quality is the largest habitat restoration project in the state.

The Watershed Innovation Lab and its Chester River Watershed Observatory are an ambitious effort to comprehensively test, analyze, and understand the movement and quality of water in the watershed, at a level of detail achieved nowhere else on such a scale. It promises more refined modeling for the Chesapeake Bay and an approach that may be transferred to other parts of the country.

The Center’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program utilizes cutting edge spatial analysis technology to work on a wide range of problems, including analysis of urban tree canopies and green infrastructure, biodiversity and land-use, crime mapping, habitat and ecosystem mapping, and community visioning. The GIS Lab and resources such as research vessels (46 ft and 27 ft) offer research and training opportunities not only for Washington College, but for local school children and their teachers.

Through these programs and others, the Center collaborates with