Faculty Profiles


Sean Todd

Professor of Marine Mammal Physiology and Behavior

Sean ToddWhere did you go to school?

University College of North Wales, Bangor, North Wales, UK

Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

What do you teach?

Biology, Zoology, Marine Science, Marine Studies, Oceanography, Statistics, Acoustics, Field Science

Why do you teach at COA?

Nowhere else would tolerate my tendency to move to interdisciplinary perspectives within each of the courses I teach! Also, I believe we are doing a fundamentally GOOD thing here. We are training future leaders who will move us toward a more sustainable future.

How long have you been part of the COA community? What has changed?

About 10 years. I'VE changed a lot - I have become far more interdisciplinary. Also, many of my classes, especially those with a field component, have an important co-curricular aspect - emphasizing leadership, self reliance, team spirit, and initiative.

What new course would you like to design?

I would LOVE to add a field component to my Polar Ecology class (Antarctica anyone?). Watch this space...

Which project thrills you most to assign and witness?

Anything that pushes a student to become more than who they already are. For example, teaching students to sail a tall-ship (including the ascent of that 50' main mast!), or nurturing students on a project to the point that they present within a professional community setting.

What does COA stand for?

C - Challenging

O - Organic (i.e., living organism)

A - Altruistic (teaching people to care)

Share an epiphany you've had that has made you a better teacher/learner/person.

That we educate the WHOLE person in class, not just a part devoted to a specific discipline.

If your students were fruit, you'd have a class full of...

Pomegranates - you have to work hard to get each individual seed, but it's worth it in the end!

What is the most significant challenge the current generation of college students faces?

Learning to slow down and enjoy life, but at the same time respond in a timely manner to significantly urgent questions about our environment and planet.

Tell us about your favorite tree on campus.

The Copper Beeches on the Turrets turnaround. They always remind me of Craig Greene.

Where are your roots?

Probably in Newfoundland. Although I was born and raised in England and I will always be proud to call my self British to the core, the windswept sea-cliffs of Newfoundland will always be home to me.

What can you say about life on an island in Maine?

Wonderfully and appropriately simple and straightforward - with none of the complications of urban culture. Then again, it can be frustrating; although the culture is wonderfully rich, it is somewhat monotonous.

In which media do you most enjoy working? Why?

Words, wood, and music. Words because of what I do and how I am expected to communicate my work. Wood because that is probably one of my most enjoyable hobbies - woodworking. Music because it has always been, and always will be, an essential part of my identity.

Where do you like to do your work?

On the water or on an island!

Beyond teaching at COA, which projects or passions energize you?

Woodworking, physical exercise, and music (both playing and listening).

Which books do you keep on your desk, in your pocket, on your nightstand?

I am never too far away from something by Tolkein, Steinbeck or O'Brien - I love the fantasy/sci-fi milieu.

What can't you live without?

Music. Rice Krispies. Loud movies with lots of explosions.

What brings you joy?

Simplicity and gentleness. Family.

Describe your ideal academic moment.

Sitting in the middle of nowhere teaching students to get somewhere and appreciate the journey (this could be considered both metaphorically and also literally [e.g on a vessel]).

What role should rebellion or revolution play in contemporary societies?

One should always be able to question convention without discrimination. At the same time, one should also be able to acknowledge that convention, in an ideal society, is created through a process of natural selection, and that process should be respected. The key, therefore, is to challenge convention in a respectful, holistic, and inclusive manner.

Which rule, theory, assumption most needs dismantling?

That science delivers truth.

What does 'green' mean to you?

Sustainable.

What's the craziest, loveliest idea you've had/heard as of late?

Tough - if I want those I usually go to Don Cass!