May 25, 2012

Commencement Coming!

College of the Atlantic holds its 40th commencement on Saturday, June 2 at 2 p.m. Innovative journalist Robert Krulwich will give the commencement address. As is traditional in COA’s untraditional exercises, students will receive a diploma from the president and board chair, and a flower from a fellow graduate. This will be COA alumnus President Darron Collins’ first commencement as president.

Waiting to honor the graduates! Photo by Julia De Santis ’12.

Young scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, writers, artists, designers, public policy analysts, and organic farmers from 14 nations, including the United States, and 23 states plus the District of Columbia, comprise the graduating class. Among the more than 80 candidates for a BA and MPhil in human ecology, COA’s one major, are a Goldwater scholar, a Kathryn W. Davis Projects for Peace awardee and a Garden Club scholar. Some 60 percent of the graduating class has had international academic experiences through COA. Student speakers include Franklin Jacoby of Cherryfield, ME, Samuli Sinisalo of Finland, Lucy Atkins of Massachusetts, and Vermonter Tasha Ball.

The Anah Highlanders lead the commencement processional. Photo by Julia De Santis ’12.

Because education at College of the Atlantic is hands-on, problem-focused, and self-directed, all graduates complete extensive senior projects of their own choosing. This year, these include animations, art exhibits, biological and botanical studies, books of many kinds, ceramics, curricula, a day camp, films, furniture, installations, entrepreneurial business launches, ethnographies, journeys, landscape designs, performances, poetry, political and sociological analyses, sustainable energy designs, and more.

Commencement speaker Robert Krulwich will be introduced by Alice Anderson of Oregon. He is the co-host of Radiolab on National Public Radio. Called “the most inventive network reporter in television” by TV Guide, he was asked to speak by the senior class itself. When invited, Krulwich told the college, “I was, to put it mildly, flattered. I don’t know if this is a totally romantic notion, but … I think that if I could roll backwards in time and be 18 all over again, I might be IN this class instead of giving them a speech. There are schools that say to kids, ‘Come here and we will teach you how to manage, to be a force in the world.’ But some schools, and COA is surely one of them, say something different. They say, ‘Come here and we’ll ask you to reimagine the world.’ That’s why I want to talk to the seniors in June. I want to hang out with a bunch of fellow-reimaginers.”

Known for its sustainability, COA celebrations have always considered the environment. All paper used at the college, including commencement, is recycled, all disposable tableware is composted, no bottled water is served, and as much food as possible is local and organic. Since COA graduates choose their own attire, there are no carbon emission costs for gown rentals. Leftover food from the celebration is delivered to a local food pantry and shelter; all food wastes are composted

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit

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