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Coastal studies major approved by Board of Trustees (Released: 2/14/97)

by Renu Sehgal, Office of University Communications.

STAMFORD, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees today (Feb. 14) approved two new undergraduate degrees in coastal studies. If approved by the state Department of Higher Education, the program will be the first bachelor's degree offered at the Avery Point campus in Groton.

"We don't have a crystal ball to guide us, but we believe that future career opportunities will be enhanced for college graduates with a better understanding of the complex science and social issues of the coastal zone," said Jim Kremer, coordinator of the program.

The interdisciplinary program, which would begin this fall, offers a cross-section of marine and social science courses aimed at providing students with proper academic training and practical expertise needed by the industry and the scientific community in the region. Students would be able to earn either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts within the Department of Marine Sciences.

"The Coastal Studies program responds to the social and economic changes occurring in Southeastern Connecticut and is a program vital to the state and its citizens," said Mark Emmert, chancellor and provost for University affairs. "Its establishment is consistent with current educational thinking and with the University's strategic planning, particularly for the development of the Avery Point campus."

The curriculum was developed by surveying businesses and researching the admissions criteria for a dozen graduate schools. Marine companies, meanwhile, were asked what skills and training they look for in potential employees.

Six new courses were created, some of which include laboratory, field training and practical decision-making of real-world issues. An internship program would allow seniors to work in area marine businesses.

"This innovative approach to studying the coastal environment will prepare students for careers directly or indirectly related to the coast, in diverse areas of science, environmental policy and management, regulation, education, law and business," Kremer said.

Coastal studies at Avery Point is offering a series of free public lectures on coastal issues. The most recent, held Feb. 11, focused on protecting water resources through land use information.

The new degrees are being developed in connection with a new, $56 million marine sciences center being constructed this year through UConn 2000 at the Avery Point campus.

Visit the coastal studies Web site.