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At field sites in North Carolina's mountains, coastline, cities and even the tropical rain forests of Thailand, undergraduates have a semester-long opportunity to explore real-world issues through a combination of coursework, field trips, research projects and internships with local organizations.
Challenges facing these host communities shape the curriculum at each site, and the results of research by Carolina faculty and students are shared with community partners.
Through the UNC Institute for the Environment — in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Environment, Ecology and Energy Program and the Study Abroad Office — Carolina offers five unique field sites where undergraduates live, study and conduct research.
The Highlands Field Site, located at the Highlands Biological Station, has a long tradition of research and education that takes advantage of the diverse and rich southern Blue Ridge Mountains.
At the Sustainable Triangle Field Site, students build and apply their skill sets and follow their research interests to solve real-world sustainability questions facing the University and Chapel Hill.
The Outer Banks Field Site on Roanoke Island combines a multidisciplinary study of the sustainable management of coastal resources with rich experiences set in the ecology and culture of North Carolina’s coastline and estuaries.
With 6.5 acres of waterfront property on Bogue Sound, the Morehead City Field Site sits in a region rich in estuarine and wetland habitat. The area includes the large embayments and estuaries that are typical of North Carolina’s coast and tied to much of its seafood production.
The international field site in Thailand focuses on environmental and energy-related challenges and potential solutions. In past semesters students have visited Hill Tribe villages, gone mountain rafting and taken elephant treks.
Learn more about the sites from Assistant Director Susan Cohen.
Molly Bost '13, '16 (MS), '22 (Ph.D.) has always known she wanted to be an environmental scientist. At Carolina, the three-time Tar Heel gained the knowledge and experience to put her passion for North Carolina's coast into action.
Senior Julia Elliott spent a semester learning about coastal ecology and policy with the Parks Service at the Outer Banks Field Site.
Two undergraduates search for salamanders in western North Carolina — and find so much more.
Tar Heels are not only gaining crucial learning experiences at the field sites. They're also serving our state through their research.
Students at each site conduct capstone projects dedicated to tackling an environmental challenge in the community. Whether it's mapping flood plains in Chapel Hill or studying newly formed ponds on the barrier islands of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, the field sites are making a lasting impact throughout our state.
Through the UNC Institute for the Environment's semester-long Sustainable Triangle Field Site, Carolina students are researching Chapel Hill's creeks to help the town develop stronger flood mitigation plans.
Biologists and students at the Highlands Field Site have teamed up to study how wetland mitigation affects small mammals. The research could make a lasting impact on the ecosystems in Julian, North Carolina.
Ken Donny-Clark spent his last semester at UNC-Chapel Hill in the woods of the Highlands Field Site searching for a dwindling population of trees that local wildlife depends on: Carolina hemlocks.
More than a dozen Tar Heels spent last fall at the Morehead City Field Site, taking classes and conducting real-world research on a new issue impacting the barrier islands of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.
As a Tar Heel, Allison Dawn '21 used drone aerial imagery and tag data to study foraging patterns of blue whales, establishing baseline patterns and behaviors for the animals.