With its rich history, romanticized literary image, incredible biological and geological resources, and pressing environmental and policy challenges, a field seminar to the Gulf coast adds an exciting dimension to the Williams-Mystic experience. Incredibly complex environmental and policy issues reflect the ever-changing face of the Mississippi River Delta and the Gulf Coast, and are fundamentally intertwined with the literature and history of Louisiana.
Williams-Mystic students journey first-hand along the Mississippi River’s banks and the Gulf coastline to learn how vast land subsidence and hurricanes have shaped the land, the people, and the culture of Louisiana. We travel to our host facility the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium field station (LUMCON) and see water-soaked towns that now consist only of a narrow strip of land. Students will see up close the submerged trees and telephone poles that were on dry land just a few years ago.
Williams-Mystic students explore the issues of the largest oil spill in U. S. history at one of the epicenters of the disaster: Grand Isle, featured frequently in the national media throughout the summer and fall of 2010. We speak to shrimp fishermen and alligator wranglers, steam down the Mississippi River on the stern-wheeler Natchez, and see Langston Hughes’s river of yesteryear as it coexists with the overwhelming industry and commerce along its levees today.