Shaped by the Sea, Shaped by the Hand: Marine Biology and 3D Art (remote/in-person*)

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Freshman - Sophomore
Class Size: 46
16 Credits per quarter
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We will investigate marine environments and life from the perspectives of science and 3D art and design with an emphasis on fine metalsmithing. We will examine how both scientific findings and artwork shape society's attitudes towards conservation and exploitation of marine systems. We will study how physical, chemical, and geological processes shape marine environments as well as the forms and adaptations of organisms that inhabit these environments. While learning how to shape materials, we will create objects that consider how the sea, and sea life, has inspired works of art and design. 

In fall quarter, the marine biology component will focus on understanding the structure and function of marine environments from estuaries to the deep-sea. We will learn about the ecological factors that explain the species diversity, distributions and productivity in these habitats. In field work assignments we will study local marine habitat such as estuaries, intertidal environments, and wetlands. Winter quarter will focus on the diversity and adaptations of marine life.

In the fine metalsmithing component, we will learn how to shape and texture non-ferrous metals using hand tools, and join pieces using rivets. Using these techniques to represent the marine environments and organisms we have observed, we will create sculptural objects and functional pieces. Winter quarter we will continue to integrate our understanding of structure and function into studio work, building skills and adding complexity to our designs with the addition of titanium anodization processes and the development of mechanisms that move and can be used to mimic elements of marine life.

Activities and work that integrates science and art will include seminar discussions and independent projects. Seminar will examine how artwork represents a narrative about nature that reflects culture, and how the design and production of everyday objects are deeply connected to the environment. In addition we will learn about the scientific process by reading about the history of marine biology and by analyzing technical scientific research articles. Independent projects will combine research on marine habitats and organisms and 3D art and design projects inspired by the student's findings. In addition, during the fall quarter first-year students will participate in Greener Foundations; sophomore students will develop additional research and 3D art in conjunction with program presentations on marine biology and art topics. 

In the winter quarter students enrolled in the 12-credit option will complete studies in marine biology and 3D art. Students in the 16-credit option will complete an additional 4-credits of supported individualized creative work, reading, research, and writing related to course themes. Weekly updates on individual work will be shared by students on WordPress sites and in Wednesday group meetings.

To successfully participate in this program, students will need internet access, access to word processing, spreadsheets, and rain gear for independent field work. Students will also need at least 4 square feet of table space to do art projects with recycled materials and a tool and material kit provided by the program. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 10 hours of synchronous coursework per week, using Zoom and Canvas. Our approach will emphasize participation in synchronous (live) sessions; however, if students find themselves unable to participate due to technological barriers, caregiving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.

Greener Foundations (fall quarter only):  This program will incorporate Greener Foundations, a holistic course designed for first-time, first-year students. Faculty and staff collaborate to bring study skills, academic planning, health and wellness education, advising, and more into the classroom. More information can be found on the college website at  Greener Foundations .


Fall 2020 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So (16): 10062
Fr (16): 10063
Winter 2021 Registration

Signature Required

Students wishing to join the program for Winter quarter only must demonstrate sufficient experience in marine biology and art by submitting an application to join the program. Interested students should contact both faculty via email ( and for the application questions. Students will need to submit their applications via email to faculty before the December 2020 Academic Fair. Students will be individually notified of their acceptance into the program via email. Selection criteria will be based on successful prior academic experience.

Course Reference Numbers

So (16): 20026
Fr (16): 20027
So (12): 20255
Fr (12): 20256

Academic details

Preparatory For

environmental studies, visual art, design, education, ecology, and marine science.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing
$180 fee per quarter will cover all tools and materials needed to complete required projects.
Special Expenses

Students may choose to spend additional funds for more extensive art projects, but this will not be required.


In Person or Remote
Remote (F)
Remote (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

DateRevision 2020-08-13 This program is fully remote during fall quarter