Press Releases

December 2, 2004

Southampton College Freshmen Class Earns Experience in the Peconic Estuary
Unique, Intensive Course Lets New Students Explore Solutions to Peconic Water Problems

Amanda Olsen (

Southampton, NY – The Peconic Estuary has been both subject and laboratory for all of Southampton College’s incoming freshmen this semester. Water quality in the estuary is the focus of the freshman Global Lecture and Seminar course, part of the new core curriculum being implemented this year at the College.

The students have been involved in a total teaching experience that is intended to move seamlessly from diverse lectures – topics have included everything from artistic perspectives of water to the hydrologic cycle and assessing water quality—to seminar discussions and field trips.

One such field trip took the students into the Riverhead Sewer District Plant for a lesson on the process of making water safe. "I didn’t know how much work goes into cleaning water," said Toni Mangogna, one of the participants. Mangogna and the entire freshman class of 2004, with the guidance of Professor Robert Turner, also collected sediment from the Peconic River and groundwater from the campus to view – and smell – the impacts of environmental pollution..

As part of the course the freshman class, working in small groups, has been charged with proposing a project to engage the public in reducing the impacts of nutrient pollution in the watershed. A panel of experts will judge the best seven of these proposals based on presentations taking place December 6, 8 and 10. The panel will then select the one with the most promise to be carried out in the spring and summer semesters of 2005 by Southampton College students.

The fall course is being co-taught by faculty representing disciplines from chemistry to economics and anthropology, including Drs. Scott Carlin, Elizabeth Granitz, Nancy Peters, Susan Oatis, John Strong, and Robert Turner. More than a dozen other faculty and staff have been involved in planning the course and continue to contribute to its execution.

Turner, the course coordinator and grant director, emphasized the impact of community participation on the students. "Having local officials and federal funding supporting the course is a good demonstration of the importance of the problems we are addressing. This, along with the potential to make a real, positive impact in the region, should serve to energize our students."

Approximately twelve students will carry out the project in the spring semester. The funds are administered by Cornell University and New York Sea Grant.