Flagship Niagara offers students unique opportunity

Contributed photoContributed photoMercyhurst College students have the special opportunity to participate in two highly exciting and unusual programs during summer 2011.

Students will have the chance to spend three weeks aboard the Flagship Niagara learning to sail, as well as participate in one of two exciting academic programs.

The Flagship Niagara program is only open to 12 colleges in the nation, and has been in place at Mercyhurst during the past year.

As of yet, no Mercyhurst students have participated, but that could change this summer.

This program offers Mercyhurst students college credit in either history or biology.

The history program takes place at the beginning of summer (May 24 to June 14), while the environmental science program will be run at the end of the summer (July 26 to Aug. 15).

The program is an experiential learning opportunity with a large amount of hands-on activities. Participants will sleep on hammocks, eat meals cooked on a woodstove, learn to sail the ship and even fire cannons.

Students do not need any boating or sailing experience to participate in the program.

History department chair Chris Magoc, Ph.D., is the lead professor on campus for the history program.

“The chance to learn Great Lakes and maritime history and to live it — aboard a square-rigged nineteenth century sailing vessel — is a special opportunity,” Magoc said.

“We are hopeful that a few of our students will be able to take advantage of it this year.”

Students who participate in the environmental science program will be exposed to freshwater fauna such as fish and mussels.

They will also travel throughout the Great Lakes and have an opportunity to compare these very different bodies of water.

Students participating in the history program will participate in traditional classroom sessions centered on the Great Lakes.

They will also explore maritime and naval history with a focus on the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie in which the original Niagara played a central role.

They will also be reading historical and literary materials on the history of the War of 1812 and the tradition of sailing aboard ships similar to Niagara.

Most importantly, they will be experiencing history by living it.
Students interested in either of the programs should contact the lead professors to receive more information about the program.

There will be an informational session sponsored by Mercyhurst’s History Department on Monday, Dec. 13, at 3:30 p.m. in the Mercy Heritage Room.

Steve Mauro, Ph.D., heads the environmental science program.
“My advice to students: Be open to new experiences and unique learning opportunities such as these,” Mauro said.