COA Summer Institute focuses on oceans 

BAR HARBOR — The College of the Atlantic Summer Institute is a week-long ideas festival that welcomes experts from around the world to share their perspectives on pressing issues. The theme of this year’s festival is “Our One and Only Ocean.” 

Speakers for the week-long festival, which is held in partnership with The National Geographic Society and supported by COA Champlain Society members, include Sam Waterston, actor and chair of the global nonprofit Oceana; National Geographic Explorer and ocean photographer Brian Skerry; Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans Monica Medina; president of the Ocean Exploration Trust Bob Ballard, who discovered the wreckage of the RMS Titanic; and many others.  

Summer Institute speakers will discuss the challenges facing the oceans while spotlighting solutions and leaders that offer hope. A total of nine sessions from July 25-29 will address climate change, deep sea exploration, fisheries and aquaculture, pollution and resource extraction, conservation, history, art and inspiration.  

“I could not be more excited for this year’s Summer Institute,” said COA Dean of Advancement Shawn Keeley. “This will be an opportunity for our community to hear from and engage with some of the most prominent leaders in ocean conservation and exploration, including a number of COA alums. Our hope is that attendees will leave with a better understanding of the challenges facing our oceans and the inspiration to be part of the most promising solutions.”  

The institute kicks off Monday evening, July 25, with “Into the Depths,” featuring National Geographic Explorers Justin Dunnavant and Tara Roberts discussing their work to find and document some of the thousands of slave ships wrecked in the Atlantic Ocean during the transatlantic slave trade. 

Morning and evening sessions continue through Friday, July 29. Guests include National Geographic Society CEO Jill Tiefenthaler, COA graduate and scientist Scott Kraus, who will talk with fisherman and Maine District 134 Representative Genevieve McDonald about balancing conservation of right whales with the needs of fishing communities and others. 

Friday’s sessions close out the week. In the morning, “The Future of Restorative Aquaculture” panel moderated by COA graduate Natalie Springuel of Maine Sea Grant will feature regional sea farmers Briana Warner of Atlantic Sea Farms, Joanna Fogg of Bar Harbor Oyster Company, Abby Barrows of Long Cove Sea Farm and Fiona de Koning of Hollander & de Koning. On Friday evening, Waterston presents “A Voice for the Ocean” with Oceana board members Susan Rockefeller and David Rockefeller Jr. 

Attendance is free but registration is required at 

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