With its rich history, literary tradition, biology, and geology–and its pressing policy challenges–the Gulf Coast is perhaps one of our most eye-opening destinations each semester. As coastlines erode and waters rise, environmental and political issues grow ever more complex here at the Mississippi River Delta and along the Gulf Coast. Visit the area on our field seminar, and you quickly learn just how intertwined these issues are with Louisiana’s culture and history as well.
Williams-Mystic students journey along the Mississippi River’s banks and Louisiana’s coastline to learn how land subsidence and hurricanes have shaped the environment, 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 also grapple with the ramifications 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 bustling industry and commerce along its levees today.