A coasting schooner named Mystic Whaler was the classroom for students taking Professor Helen Rozwadowski’s Introduction to Maritime Studies course recently.
The cruise on a tall ship is a highlight of this particular class, but Maritime Studies, an interdisciplinary, liberal arts major offered at the Avery Point campus, makes extensive use of other local resources as well, to maximize the opportunities for experiential learning. The field trips complement and enhance class readings in literature, history, geography, economics, maritime law, and other areas.
“One of the reasons I take my students on the Whaler, and also on sailing vessels at Avery Point and historical vessels at Mystic Seaport, is for them to learn how to raise and operate different kinds of sails, from modern ones to traditional square sails, so that as they read literature and maritime history, they understand,” says Rozwadowski. “They learn how to follow commands, how to coil lines, and how the hierarchy of a ship functions.”
Graduates of the program, the only one of its kind in the nation, are pursuing graduate studies in the fields of history, economics, and maritime archeology; teaching in K-12 schools; employed by environmental nonprofits; working as technicians on fisheries research vessels; and a few are even tall ship sailors.