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Niagara University students taking higher education to the high seas

by jmaloni
Wed, Jul 20th 2011 12:40 pm

Five Niagara University students will be among the 20 taking higher education to the high seas later this month when they participate in an educational program that takes place aboard an authentic 19th century wooden sailing ship.

Jason Davis, Class of 2013, Danielle Graham, '14, Joe Grenga, '12, Lauren Kapus, '13, and Carolyn Trabert, '12, will board the Flagship Niagara in Erie, Pa., on July 26 for a three-week environmental science study that concludes in Chicago on Aug. 15.

The Flagship Niagara, a reproduction of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's flagship from the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, will essentially serve as a floating college campus, engaging students in customized coursework on the Great Lakes. The program's curriculum, which took more than six months to create, will focus on biology, ecology, chemistry and natural history, with students receiving course credits from their home institution upon completion.

"The combination of learning ecology, while living, working and studying on the Flagship Niagara, will allow students an amazing experiential learning experience," asserts NU Professor Bill Edwards, Ph.D., who will lead the group of four course instructors.

According to Walter Rybka, the ship's senior captain, the program is the first of its kind.

"We have created a shipboard educational model that does not exist anywhere else in the United States," he said.

"This is just one more example of how the Flagship Niagara is in a league of her own when it comes to formalized shipboard education," added Caleb Pifer of the Flagship Niagara League, a volunteer organization that oversees educational programming and fundraising efforts for the Erie Maritime Museum and Flagship Niagara.

In addition to Niagara University, participating students come from Walsh University (Canton, Ohio), Heidelberg University (Tiffin, Ohio), the State University of New York College at Fredonia, Lock Haven University (Lock Haven, Pa.), and Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, Pa.).

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