Self-designed major… endless possibilities

Every COA student designs their own course of study in human ecology . Beyond a small core of degree requirements , there’s no set path. You give shape to your curriculum based on your interests and goals, exploring across multiple areas of study or digging deeper into a chosen focus.

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Why we take a different approach

In the words of faculty member Rich Borden: “There is a tendency, especially in the academic world, to carve life into ever smaller pieces in order to make sense of it. All too often, the people who do this come to believe that is how the world really is. The aim of human ecology is to remind us that we are part of a complex and interactive living world. Its broad mandate calls us to cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines and seek fresh combinations of ideas. This demands a different approach to education—one which invites imagination and caring for the future. This is why COA was founded, and it is what we do best.”

Stories about academics at COA:

  • NEWS
    Exploring The Great West
    Ecology and Natural History of the American West is an intensive, field-based expeditionary program which takes students from Oregon to New Mexico and everywhere in between, giving them a fully immersive experience in the habitats and landscapes of the Western United States.
  • NEWS
    Artist Fuses Her Dreams into Taxidermy as Art [PenBay Pilot]
    Alexandrea Farquhar ’19 designs and constructs “Post-Morphean Dream Work” an art exhibit featuring her love for non-traditional, ethically sourced taxidermy.
  • NEWS
    Real Humans, Real Bodies: Promoting Body Positivity
    As a part of the Business & Nonprofit Basics class, three students — Christi Beddiges ’18, Carolyn Tlaseca ’18, and Emma Flaherty ’17, have started a photo project to combat the negative views we’re taught to feel towards our bodies.