Green Colleges: College of the Atlantic

A breakdown of this four-year college in Maine that offers majors linked to sustainability.


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A powerhouse of talent has emerged from the tiny Maine campus of College of the Atlantic (COA), a four-year, interdisciplinary liberal arts institution for students drawn to careers linked to sustainability.

Location: Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Majors: Just one: Human Ecology, the study of interrelationships between people and natural, social, and technological environments (B.A. or M.Phil.). Concentrations include design, environmental and natural sciences, architecture, marine studies, natural history museum studies, public policy, teacher education, humanities.

Campus life: It takes ten minutes to get from one end of COA’s campus to the other. Students can swim in the ocean between classes. Acadia National Park is within walking distance.

Outdoor classrooms: Students may do biology and marine ecology fieldwork in one of two COA lighthouses or learn about composting and growing heirloom plants on its eighty-six-acre organic farm.

Student body: About 300 students from 22 countries. Says Sarah Drummond of Colorado: “I was drawn to COA’s smallness, the emphasis on the environment, and the self-directed curriculum.” Eduarta Kapinova from Albania says: “I love the fact that we get lots of attention from teachers.”

Famous alumni: Nell Newman (’87), developed an organic line for father Paul Newman’s charitable food company, Newman’s Own Organics. Chellie Pingree (’76), ran for U.S. Senate in 2002. Bill Ginn (’74), established Maine’s bottle bill as a student project.

ContactCollege of the Atlantic, (207) 288-5015