SAMSO ISLAND, DENMARK — Thirteen students, two graduate students and two faculty members from College of the Atlantic are in Europe for two weeks, studying ways to bring energy independence and cost reductions to Maine islands.

In a unique partnership with the Island Institute funded by the Fund for Maine Islands, COA students are engaged in a “monster course” that’s actually three distinct, one-credit courses: “Energy and Technology,” “Impact Investing,” and “Islands: Energy, Economy and Community.”

While interacting with COA faculty members Jay Friedlander and Anna Demeo, with Maine islanders and with energy researchers from Denmark, students also are attending the renowned Samsø Energy Academy, to learn firsthand from residents of this farming and tourist community how Samsø became “carbon negative” (absorbing more carbon emissions than it produces) through efficiency upgrades, wind and solar power production, biomass-distributed district heating, and other elements of a renewable energy portfolio.

In early October, they will return to Maine and the course will continue. Students will work to develop project ideas and feasibility studies for energy initiatives that Maine islanders can implement on the Maine coast to help their communities become more sustainable.

“Bringing education beyond the classroom and taking on real problems elevates the learning to a new level and merges thought and action,” said Friedlander, the Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business. “Students are more engaged and have depth of understanding far beyond the textbook.”

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