At COA you hold in your own hands the freedom, and responsibility, of building your educational path. Each student designs his or her own course of study in human ecology—an exploration of the relationships between humans and their natural, cultural, and built environments. With only 350 students, 35 faculty, and 70 staff members, the close-knit community controls and shapes the policies and practices of the whole college.

The world isn’t divided by majors. Neither is College of the Atlantic.

Self-designed major… endless possibilities

Every COA student designs their own course of study in human ecology . Beyond a small core of degree requirements , there’s no set path. You give shape to your curriculum based on your interests and goals, exploring across multiple areas of study or digging deeper into a chosen focus.

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Why we take a different approach

In the words of faculty member Rich Borden: “There is a tendency, especially in the academic world, to carve life into ever smaller pieces in order to make sense of it. All too often, the people who do this come to believe that is how the world really is. The aim of human ecology is to remind us that we are part of a complex and interactive living world. Its broad mandate calls us to cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines and seek fresh combinations of ideas. This demands a different approach to education—one which invites imagination and caring for the future. This is why COA was founded, and it is what we do best.”

Stories about academics at COA:

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