Customize Your Degree to Save The Seas

posted by admin on 15 August 2014

In the 1970s, students around the country were looking for education reform. They were looking for academic freedom, but they were not looking to get rid of the chance for a rigorous education. During this time period, many schools developed programs where students could choose a concentration and create a more focused education.

Salamanders in NH

This is one of the reasons I opted to merge marine science with film through the Bachelors Degree with Individual Concentration program (BDIC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where I’m a junior. With the BDIC program, students choose an area of concentration and are not bound to the rigid curriculum offered by traditional majors. Students are encouraged to choose courses and customize their major to better suite their interests.

Film can be one of the most powerful tools in protecting and preserving our oceans, rivers and lakes. By allowing people to actually see the stark white reefs from coral bleaching and damaged mangrove forests due to shrimp aquaculture farms, video media can highlight current issues in marine environments that many do not have the opportunity to actually see first hand. Through film, we can share knowledge and with that knowledge we can help create a better world.

For example, this summer I gathered footage of the catch and release of striped bass for one of my professors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I also went to the Connecticut River, Long Island Sound and various lakes in New England to practice filming. Aside from that, I worked with another professor on campus to help set up an online course on sustainable aquaculture.

Small mouth bass in the Connecticut River

Many colleges are seeing the advantages of adopting programs where students can choose courses with more freedom. Within the past few years students within the BDIC program here at UMass Amherst have been incorporating classes on sustainability into their major. This trend may be revealing something important. Perhaps college students today are more concerned with their impact in the world and how to make it a more positive one. And for me, I’m enjoying customizing my degree to help save the seas.

Article and photos by Nichole Ring

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