Field-based Environmental Humanities

Our Environmental Humanities field trips allow you to step outside the classroom to immerse yourself in natural and human-constructed environments that enhance your understanding through direct experience. 

From your very first semester at UNE, you explore the local natural landscape through different literary, historical and philosophical lenses. For example, you might read Henry David Thoreau and then visit the Beaver Pond Trail, a local wildlife commons created and managed by a member of the faculty.

In your study of environmental history, you read characteristic New England landscapes—forests, coastlines and waterfront cities—to learn how past interactions between humans and nature give significance to the places we inhabit today. You explore how an understanding of the past informs current environmental issues.

In your study of the nature writers, you visit landscapes, seascapes and ecosystems to compare your experiences with those of celebrated writers such as Thoreau and Rachel Carson. 

During these excursions, you: 

  • Explore the ocean surf and tide pools where the first Europeans wintered in North America.
  • Paddle the Saco River through the foothills of the White Mountains.
  • Bushwhack across a forest to reach Maine’s largest American Beech tree.
  • Canoe a glacial cirque lake closely resembling Walden Pond.
  • Tour by boat the historic canal system and walk the historic textile factory floor of Lowell National Historic Park to examine how 19th century industrialization affected river conditions and laborers’ lives.
  • Read the forested landscape, searching for remnants of historic agriculture and forestry practices, and converse with longtime residents to understand the forest past and inform current conservation.
  • Tour urban parks and green spaces, expanding  your appreciation of these places by retracing past visions and debates over their development.
  • Walk the coastline and trails of a historic salt marsh farm to explore the historic importance of past resource management decisions on coastal ecosystems and communities.

Example Destinations

  • Saco River from Swan's Falls to Canal Bridge (Fryeburg, Maine)
  • Ell Pond (Wells, Maine)
  • Hills Beach (Biddeford, Maine)
  • Mount Agamenticus (York, Maine) 
  • Ossipee Hill (Waterboro, Maine)
  • Horton Woods, a 100-acre wildlife preserve (Saco, Maine)

  • Urban parks, including Deering Oaks Park, the Eastern Promenade, Evergreen Cemetery (Portland, Maine) 
  • UNE’s New England Woods, a 363-acre undeveloped field laboratory of mixed wetland and upland