Island Institute

How CSC Courses Happen

Port Clyde Fisherman

A perfect example of how CSC course happen is this spring’s offering: The Maine Islands: Small Communities, Big Thinking.

CSC curriculum committee members regularly peruse the course offerings of other area senior colleges. Betty Welt, a longtime committee member, noticed that the Belfast Senior College had offered an Island Institute class last year. She made a contact with the institute, and voila. Simple as that.

In fact, many of our courses are initiated or developed through the persistence and interest of CSC members. Someone meets a recently retired professor at a cocktail party. A former teacher takes a CSC class and mentions an interest in teaching to the classroom assistant. Someone sees an article in the paper about a speech being given locally and follows up with a phone call to the lecturer. A retiree moves into the neighborhood and mentions a particular expertise or passion.

As a CSC member, you are also an “agent in the field” for CSC’s curriculum committee. Being aware of what’s happening in your community, keeping your eyes and ears open – these are important attributes for assisting CSC to locate and cultivate new instructors and courses. Let us know, and the curriculum committee will follow through.

Regarding this course, The Island Institute was founded 31 years ago by naturalist Phillip Conklin and photographer Peter Ralston. Conklin had been hired to inventory uninhabited islands from a naturalist perspective – the flora and fauna – but became intrigued by the number of islands containing old foundations and evidence of habitation. As it turns out, there were 300 inhabited Maine islands at the turn of the century. (Today, there are 15.) Conklin met up with Ralston, a friend of the Wyeth family, when he was hired to survey the Wyeth’s Allen Island with an eye to returning part of it to sheep pastureland. With an abiding interest in islands, the men founded the Island Institute. (Thanks to the institute’s HR Specialist, Nancy Carter, for this historical input.) More information about the institute is available at:

Monhegan Sea Smoke – The Island Institute

The course will consider various issues, many of which are not exclusive to island living, such as: diversifying economies, resource sustainability, education and distance learning, climate change. Examples of how these issues are being approached will be drawn from many of the various islands. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from these resourceful and independent islanders.

For more information and schedule of this exciting course, click here.

It can be said that Betty’s efforts will result in a unique and one-of-a-kind glimpse into the microcosm of island life. In closing, there is one question you might ask yourself: Could I be the next person to make “it” happen?

-photos by The Island Institute