Students interested in law and politics usually begin by taking one or more foundational, introductory courses: Introduction to the Legal Process , Introduction to Global Politics , and Globalization/Anti-Globalization . These courses give students a firm foundation in US law and in international political and economic institutions, such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank.  You will then have the background to protect rivers or forests, species or habitats, people or communities, in the US and elsewhere.

Thinking locally, acting globally: intergovernmental treaties

At COA we don’t do model UN.  We do the actual UN.

Sometimes global action is needed to protect the local. COA students are frequent participants in a number of international negotiation meetings, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), and the UN Committee on World Food Security. Students are active both inside and outside the meeting hall as they collaborate with youth activists from around the globe. Classes on campus such as Practicing Climate Politics and Climate Justice give students a solid grounding in the content and politics so they can be effective analysts and advocates. Students who have participated in UNFCCC meetings have gone on to work for leading international NGOs and have served on the official UN delegations of various countries. Others have gone on to do legal and policy work around environmental and social issues.

Thinking globally, acting locally: conservation

There is no four-year college closer to a US national park than COA.

Other environmental issues require local and regional efforts. COA offers classes and opportunities for students interested in conserving rivers, forests, and wilderness—the natural places that matter most to us. For example, Acadia: The National Park Idea uses neighboring Acadia National Park as a case study for understanding the challenges and rewards of managing human and natural landscapes. Coursework gives you an understanding of both local, regional, and global aspects of conservation. Relevant classes include International Wildlife Policy , Marine Policy , Our Public Lands , Whitewater/Whitepaper: River Conservation and Management , and Wildlife Ecology all of which merge science and policy.

Connections, near and far

Acadia National Park (ANP) is not just a site for field trips, but also a partner and collaborator. Our connections with ANP serve as an entrée into an international network. COA faculty have worked for major environmental organizations like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. Faculty and staff work with local environmental organizations such as the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and the Penobscot East Resource Center. Internationally, COA faculty have recently done consulting for NGOs including Third World Network, the World Wildlife Fund, CARE International, and ActionAid, and have also advised various governments. What this means is that COA faculty are on the forefront of efforts to protect the environment and are well connected with local, regional, and international organizations.


  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><strong>Reminder</strong>: Areas of Study at COA aren’t majors or formal concentrations. All COA students design their own <a href="/academics/human-ecology-degree/">major in human ecology</a> and are free to chart their own path. Your major is defined by you, not us.</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><strong>Reminder</strong>: ‘Areas of Study’ aren’t the only way to think about courses.  Browse and explore <a href="">here</a>.</p></div>


    Gray Cox
    Faculty, Philosophy, Peace Studies, & Language Learning
    Jamie McKown
    Faculty, Government & Polity