Chesapeake Bay Studies

The objectives of the program are to increase an awareness of the Chesapeake Bay and increase an awareness of man's relationship with and responsibility to the natural environment. Students also develop a sense of history and an understanding of economic and social issues. By using the Chesapeake Bay as a microcosm, students are able to explore a wide range of activities, all of which bring greater awareness of the complex nature of man and his environment.
The Chesapeake Bay Studies Program incorporates all disciplines in its exploration of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. A week long activity, Bay Studies draws on both outside agencies such as Outward Bound, Echo Hill Outdoor School, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Sultana, as well as on Gunston's own faculty to explore the various components of life in and around the Chesapeake Bay including environmental studies, history, and social and cultural influences. Primarily experiential, Bay Studies incorporates field trips, analysis of primary sources, in depth study of specific topics, discussion, journal writing, lab work, and computer analysis.


First and second year students begin with foundational learning experiences that provide direct contact with the Chesapeake Bay. Students then progress into immersive experiences with a specific curriculum focus. Third and fourth year students participate in seminar-style programs that reach beyond the Bay and connect with professional disciplines.

Foundation Trips-First & Second Year Students

CBF's Fox Island

CBF's Fox Island—This program, led by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, takes students to study and stay in a restored hunting lodge, perched on the marsh. Students research and experience the Bay first hand. Day trips on Monday and Tuesday introduce students to the parameters by which Bay health is measured. Away overnight Wednesday-Friday.


Fox Island Info

CBEC Kayak Release

Echo Hill

Echo Hill—How have boats been used to travel and fish the Bay? What is the state of the Chester River watershed? With the past as perspective, students will explore Chesapeake’s natural/human history and culture during a four night overnight stay on board the Annie D. and the skipjack Elsworth. Away overnight Monday -Friday

Ecology of the Bay

Ecology of the Bay—Learn and experience the Chesapeake Bay through a variety of day trips in the region. Students will sail on CBF’s skipjack, paddle with Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, and complete a service project on the Eastern Shore. Students finish the week understanding how the health of the Bay is assessed. Day trips

Chesapeake Wilderness Institute

Chesapeake Wilderness Institute—Head up the Bay for a weekend of tent camping, hiking, canoeing. Students research and experience the Bay first hand. Students finish the week understanding how the health of the Bay is assessed. Away overnight Monday-Friday

Sultana Projects

Sultana Projects—Get excited about this mixed days and overnights kayaking trip through several scenic, undeveloped tidal tributaries of our Chesapeake region. Students finish the week understanding how the health of the Bay is assessed and experience the Bay firsthand on the three-day, two night camping trip at the end of the week. Away overnight Wednesday-Friday

Experiential Trips-Second & Third Year Students

Farm to Fork

Farm to Fork—Food production and farming are critical parts of our local environment. This year’s focus is on the farm to table trend. Farm to fork, pasture to plate, cow to cup… call it what you’d like, it’s a consistent growing area of emphasis for chefs and restaurants. Be ready to tromp through fields and carry the harvest to the kitchen! Through this experience, students will focus on local farms and restaurants around the Chesapeake, and plant raised beds on campus to continue the movement at Gunston. Day trips

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade—Watermen and their crafts—Immerse yourself in the craft of boatbuilding through a unique partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Students will spend their week at the Museum working in the boatyard and spending time out on the water in the Museum’s collection of small crafts. Day trips

Sultana Projects

Sultana Projects—Get excited about this mixed days and overnights kayaking trip through several scenic, undeveloped tidal tributaries of our Chesapeake region. Students will feel fully immersed with nature while camping with the surrounding fauna and flora.

Mission to Chesapeake Bay

Mission to Chesapeake Bay—Explore the Chesapeake Bay from above and from below. Students will design, build, and launch rockets with cameras to explore our environment from the sky. They will also have an opportunity to build ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) with sensors to explore the underwater environment. Together, these two projects introduce the students to studying the Chesapeake Bay environment using remote sensing device. Day trips

Williamsburg & Jamestown

Williamsburg and Jamestown—Calling all history buffs! The Chesapeake Bay is rich in history stretching from pre-European settlements to current events. Students will travel Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia to explore the initial European settlements, a perfect match to US History classes. Away overnight Sunday - Thursday

Headwaters Hiking

Headwaters Hiking—Join a small group for a week of camping and hiking in Shenandoah National Park and Charlottesville, VA. Students investigate the relationship between land-use in the headwaters and the health of the Chesapeake Bay and return to Gunston with a deeper understanding of the ecological diversity within the watershed. Away overnight Sunday-Thursday

Advanced Program Offerings-Third & Fourth Year Students

Capturing a Sense of Place

Capturing a Sense of Place—Explore how artists use a variety of mediums to convey the identity of the Chesapeake Bay Region. Activities include day trips to local natural areas, writing, photography, and drawing. Day trips

Islands Out of Time with CBF

Islands Out of Time with CBF—Offered in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and based from Tangier or Smith Island, students will investigate the threat of sea level rise tied to climate change. From glacial rebound to the impact of a meteor strike millions of years ago to melting glaciers, factors affecting water levels in the Chesapeake Bay are complex and dynamic. Students will engage in hands-on investigations, real world simulations, and utilize digital mapping software to understand the impact of sea level change. Away overnight Sunday-Tuesday, ends on Thursday

Comparative Watershed —Mississippi River Delta

Comparative Watershed Trip, the Mississippi Delta region—The Mississippi River Delta is a complex web of environmental, social, and industrial interactions. Students will dissect these interactions through time at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium research station, kayaking the tupelo swamps, and completing community service projects in New Orleans. Saturday to Saturday trip

Philosophy of Nature

Philosophy of Nature—American literary greats were inspired by their time in nature and created the transcendentalist movement. Spend three days immersed in nature as you backpack along the Appalachian Trail and go spelunking in the Chesapeake watershed karst region. Away overnight Monday-Thursday

Energy, Ecology & Culture of Western Md

Energy, Ecology and Culture of Western Maryland—Offered in partnership with Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society, spend the week in Western Maryland investigating the role of energy generation technologies in shaping the culture and ecology of the headwaters. Students will experience a working coal mine, tour a coal fired power plant, and see and design wind turbines. Away Sunday-Thursday