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UNC Institute for the Environment Outer Banks Field Site (OBXFS)
The UNC Institute for the Environment’s Outer Banks Field Site (OBXFS) program will take place on Roanoke Island, which is on the North Carolina's Outer Banks. By living in such close proximity to large areas of protected natural beach, marsh, and maritime forest — as well as small coastal communities — participants experience a unique opportunity to appreciate the natural and cultural diversity of northeastern North Carolina. As part of an intense investigation of this unique area, students will divide their time between taking courses, going on field trips, taking part in a Capstone research project, and working as an intern with an organization on a project tailored to their personal and academic interests. Because of its interdisciplinary approach to law and policy, ecology and natural resource management, environmental economics, and social science research methods, this program provides an excellent opportunity for students across the curriculum, including those in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive 17 credit hours.
The OBXFS is based on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, in the heart of northeastern North Carolina's Sound Country. Roanoke Island is four miles from the Atlantic Ocean at Nags Head and about ten miles from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. OBXFS students will explore the Outer Banks and other parts of northeastern NC through OBXFS activities, but the majority of classes will be held at the Coastal Studies Institute that features a state-of-the-art campus that overlooks the Roanoke Sound.
The proximity of the OBXFS to these sounds and the ocean provides students opportunities to learn about and experience multiple coastal ecosystems and observe human interactions with them during activities, internships, and classes. OBXFS students also enjoy surfing, kayaking, beach bonfires, fishing, and flying kites on Jockey's Ridge in their spare time.
OBXFS participants benefit from frequent interactions with the community, which is facilitated by a Community Advisory Board (CAB). CAB members are residents of the Outer Banks and Eastern NC who bring a diversity of disciplines, professional practices, and experiences to enrich the student experience.
Students who enroll in the OBXFS take the following courses:
- ENEC 204: Seminar on Coastal Issues (1 credit)
- ENEC 351: Coastal Law and Policy (3 credits)
- ENEC 395: Research in Environmental Science and Studies (3 credits)
- ENEC 474: Sustainable Coastal Management (3 credits)
- ENEC 489: Ecological Processes in Environmental Systems (4 credits)
- ENEC 698: Capstone (3 credits)
Coursework at this field site would be suitable for students pursuing interests in environmental decision-making, public policy, law, natural resource management, and city and regional planning.
One of the most important components of a student's semester at the OBXFS will be the semester-long internship. Through these internships, students will work directly with experts at a variety of local agencies and organizations on a project of significance to both the student and the organization. Every effort will be made to place the student in an internship that complements her/his interests. Although each student works on a different project, all student research will be focused on solving an environmental problem or shedding light on an environmental issue that is unique to the region.
In the past, students with an interest in planning, law, and environmental decision making have enjoyed internships with town and county planning departments where they have helped to develop and implement public education campaigns regarding stormwater and contributed to planning efforts for beach access, recreational facilities, walking tours, and coastal zoning. Those with an interest in natural resource management have contributed to management plans for endangered red wolves with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, assessed and mapped invasive species for the NC Coastal Reserve, helped The Nature Conservancy monitor the success of a ecosystem adaptation to climate change program, and assisted the NC Aquariums and Network for Endangered Sea Turtles in implementing and monitoring sea turtle conservation efforts.
As a way to deepen your sense of this special place, there are frequent field trips, guest speakers and special outings to the Great Dismal Swamp, Ocracoke Island, Portsmouth Island, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, and other unique places that underscore the cultural and ecological diversity of the region. Local historians, university professors, writers, policy makers, and other natural resource professionals will also be invited to share their thoughts on a broad range of issues, including the role of perception in shaping a sense of place, the geomorphology of the region, and the promises of sustainable economic development.
Courses in this program are UNC Graded Credit.
UNC Graded Credit Programs (often taught by UNC Faculty): No action required
- These courses automatically show up on your Tar Heel Tracker and UNC Transcript.
- You will receive a letter grade for those courses, and this does affect your GPA.
Students will live in the Friend of Elizabeth II guest house in Manteo (also on Roanoke Island), which is within walking distance of downtown Manteo and biking distance of UNC CSI. The guest house offers individual bedrooms that are arranged in suites and ample common space, including living areas with couches and televisions, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a laundry room.
Review the Budget Sheet posted above for detailed information on costs and fees. Costs vary per term and are subject to change.
Tuition and fees for the program are based on current UNC tuition rates, the student’s NC residency status, and operating costs of the program. Tuition and fees will be charged to the participant’s UNC student account. Review the Budget Sheet for additional Cashier Billed Expenses and Out-of-Pocket Costs. The Study Abroad Office strongly encourages students to budget carefully for their time abroad.
Getting Started: Funding Study Abroad
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Complete the required UNC application by clicking “Apply Now” at the top of the page. If you have not done so already, create a profile to start your application.
Applications are due by March 1, 2024.
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For pictures, frequently asked questions, student testimonials, and more, visit the program’s blog
! For more information, please contact the field site's Co-Director, Lindsay Dubbs at 252-475- 5492 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on requesting ARS accommodations (academic, health, and mobility concerns) for a study abroad program, contact the Advisor for Access