Course code:



M - Intermediate

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:


This course will acknowledge the half-century point of COA’s existence with a close examination of its founding moment and early history. We will revisit the books and ideas that influenced the College’s framers and texts that were assigned in the original courses. Every class will feature one or more guest participants from previous eras: teachers, staff and alums, to encourage a live dialogue between COA generations. The course will attempt to reproduce the open and unscripted atmosphere of the early college. Students will be encouraged to compare the old and the contemporary on a range of topics including the development of human ecology, the idea of democracy, the governance system and the ACM, landscape and architecture on the physical campus, the 1983 fire and recovery, the cultural and financial relationship of the college to Bar Harbor and MDI, trends in student demographics, and COA’s own mutations in relation to changes in the outside world. Readings will be chosen to reconstruct the intellectual conditions of the era, using all or parts of René Dubos’ So Human an Animal, Loren Eiseley’s The Immense Journey, Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature, C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures, A.N. Whitehead’s “The Aims of Education,” Scott & Helen Nearing’s Living the Good Life and Samuel Eliot Morison’s Story of Mount Desert Island, along with early COA mission statements, founding documents, oral and written histories including: Such a Frail Bark; Less Whales More Latin; COA: The First Three Decades; and the Ed Kaelber videos. Students will choose and pursue a specific topic in COA history; evaluation will be based on a report midway through the term and final paper due Week 10. This course will be a look at where we have come from and what we are.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.