The College of William and Mary, partnering with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, is now offering a new undergraduate minor in marine science.
The minor, designed to meet a strong and growing interest in marine science among William & Mary undergrads, features courses taught by faculty in William & Mary's School of Marine Science at VIMS and in natural-science departments at the College's Williamsburg campus.
Faculty in the School of Marine Science at VIMS have previously offered courses primarily to graduate students. VIMS has awarded more than 800 master's and Ph.D. degrees in marine science since 1943.
The new undergraduate minor program is initially being offered as a three-year pilot program for 20 students per year. The new minor features a field-studies course held at VIMS' Eastern Shore Laboratory in Wachapreague, Va., where students will receive two-weeks of hands-on instruction in and around the coastal lagoons of Virginia's barrier-island ecosystem.
VIMS Professor Elizabeth Canuel, a leader in establishing the new minor, says the program meets a clear need. "Undergraduate students have wanted greater access to marine science courses and faculty for years," says Canuel. "Over the past decade, we have witnessed a growing number of William & Mary undergrads interested in pursuing research projects with our faculty, participating in our summertime Research Experience for Undergraduates program, and enrolling in undergraduate- and graduate-level courses taught by VIMS faculty."
An existing Introduction to Oceanography course taught by VIMS faculty on the Williamsburg campus has been consistently over-enrolled. The new Introduction to Marine Science course reached its 50-student maximum shortly after being opened to enrollment in November.
VIMS Dean and Director John Wells says the minor represents "an exciting new chapter in VIMS' long history of providing an exemplary education in marine science, and will help satisfy the growing national demand for qualified marine-science professionals."
The program is administered by the Marine Science Minor Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Canuel and Heather Macdonald, Chancellor Professor of Geology at William & Mary.