Professor Ken Cline's class, “Acadia: Exploring the National Park Idea,” recreates a dinner gathering set in 1907. Luminaries included John Emery, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Mrs. M.K. Jesup, George Dorr, Ernesto Fabbri, and Charles W. Eliot.Professor Ken Cline's class, “Acadia: Exploring the National Park Idea,” recreates a dinner gathering set in 1907. Luminaries included John Emery, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Mrs. M.K. Jesup, George Dorr, Ernesto Fabbri, and Charles W. Eliot. Credit: Rob Levin

Using Acadia National Park as a case study, professor Ken Cline’s class, “Acadia, Exploring the National Park Idea,” unpacks the meaning of such places for Americans in terms of history and identity. 

This fall, the class staged a recreation of a dinner set in 1907. Cline played John Emery whose summer cottage, The Turrets, is now part of COA’s campus. Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller were there, as were Mrs. M.K. Jesup, George Dorr, Ernesto Fabbri, Charles W. Eliot, and other luminaries of the day. Dinner was served in the actual dining room of the historic building, which is now a classroom. 

First-year students Beatrice Butler, Nichole Francia, Heather Sieger, and Laurel Streeter chat on the porch of Turrets during a 1907 reenactment dinner.First-year students Beatrice Butler, Nichole Francia, Heather Sieger, and Laurel Streeter chat on the porch of Turrets during a 1907 reenactment dinner. Credit: Rob Levin

Laurel Streeter ’19 and Stephen Dowdy ’19 get into the historical spirit.Laurel Streeter ’19 and Stephen Dowdy ’19 get into the historical spirit. Credit: Rob Levin

Through direct experiences in one of the “crown jewels” of the park system, the class examines the historical, ecological, cultural, social, legal, economic, and spiritual context in which national parks are formed and continue to exist in the 21st century.

Students work with National Park Service professionals to look at various aspects of park management and day-to-day challenges of implementing the “national park idea.” Through weekly field trips, journaling, service learning opportunities, and projects, they are immersed in the management and experience of Acadia.

Tyler Prest ’16 and Brynna Golden ’16 take their role as hired help quite seriously.Tyler Prest ’16 and Brynna Golden ’16 take their role as hired help quite seriously. Credit: Rob Levin

The original dining room of The Turrets, now a classroom, creates an elegant atmosphere for the Acadia founders' dinner. Pictured are, from left, Mount Desert Island Historical Society Director Tim Garrity, Emma LaVercombe ’18, Elizabeth Signore ’19, and Will O'Brien ’19.The original dining room of The Turrets, now a classroom, creates an elegant atmosphere for the Acadia founders' dinner. Pictured are, from left, Mount Desert Island Historical Society Director Tim Garrity, Emma LaVercombe ’18, Elizabeth Signore ’19, and Will O'Brien ’19. Credit: Rob Levin

Cline’s class explores, through reading and writing, the broader themes of wilderness preservation, attitudes toward nature, the history of conservation, and the commodification of nature. This experiential class is specifically geared toward first-year students.

Professor Ken Cline and COA's manager of donor engagement Jen Hughes.Professor Ken Cline and COA's manager of donor engagement Jen Hughes. Credit: Rob LevinAspen Budd ’19, Mikey Cornish ’19, and Emma Flaherty ’17 mingle before dinner gets underway.Aspen Budd ’19, Mikey Cornish ’19, and Emma Flaherty ’17 mingle before dinner gets underway. Credit: Rob Levin