Marine Ecosystems in the Balance: Protecting a Changing Estuary

Course Description

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island’s important natural resource and estuary, is home to a large community of plants and animals including salt marsh grasses, eelgrass, micro- and macro-algae, crustaceans, fish, and seals. Estuaries, where the rivers meet the sea, are the foundation of life in marine systems and are considered to be one of the most productive and biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Today, estuaries are threatened by challenges created by human activities like climate change, invasive species, and impacts on water quality. Throughout this two-week course, Narragansett Bay will serve as a living laboratory and case study where we will learn about the Bay's important functions and how it and other estuaries are impacted by very real threats. We will learn what can be done to address climate, environmental, and other threats to estuaries.

Throughout this course, you will be immersed in learning about a diversity of habitats that together make up Narragansett Bay, and through these studies use the bay as a model for estuaries globally. We will learn how estuaries function, as well as the important impact estuaries, have on all marine systems. We will also explore and investigate how the Bay is negatively impacted by human activities.

You will engage in lab and fieldwork, as well as reading and writing assignments and group presentations. This course includes an academic project that you will work on over the two weeks and present on the final day to your peers. As a culminating project, you will select a topic relating to coastal restoration and resiliency close to home, and be tasked with generating a grant proposal in response to a Request for Proposals from our staff. This exercise will serve as the lens through which you will view the course, tie together your work over the two weeks, and provide concrete experience in more scientific and professional writing.

This course will take place, each day, at the non-profit organization, Save the Bay, 100 Save the Bay Drive, located in Providence, RI, and nestled along the shore of Narragansett Bay.

Most of the course includes outdoor, hands-on learning activities either onboard an educational vessel or at coastal locations throughout Narragansett Bay.

In this course, you will gain an understanding of how to:
• Utilize water quality monitoring equipment to collect accurate and precise data
• Read and interpret data
• Analyze data in a collaborative manner

By the end of this course, you will be capable of teaching others about both your findings: threats to estuaries and future solutions to threats presented. The data collection techniques learned will prepare you for future college coursework and a career in an environmental science field.


It is expected that students have an interest in marine science, ecology, and habitat restoration.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 18, 2022 - July 29, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 8:30A-11:20A and 2 afternoon class sessions per week
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Jennifer Kelly
Course Number: 10004