Students of the Munson Institute attend a variety of local field seminars, including:
Mystic and Stonington, CT — A quiet residential neighborhood in Mystic is the first stop on our local field seminar at what was the site of the first genocidal war fought in New England. Munson Institute faculty will explore the maritime origins of the Pequot War of 1637 while standing on the ground on which the war’s opening battle was fought. Ten minutes up the road lies the historic seaport of Stonington. A walking tour of the period gem will examine the community’s whaling past, its ongoing fishing heritage, Portuguese mariners, architecture, and community identity.
New London and Groton, CT — These two communities face each other across the Thames River, and Munson Institute students will be introduced to their histories and their current maritime affairs. Groton is not only the location of the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, but is also the home of historic Fort Griswold, the scene of Revolutionary War combat that has rightly been termed a massacre. Visits to these locations will make clear the maritime nature of their meaning. Groton is also the home to the Electric Boat nuclear submarine shipyard and the US Navy’s western Atlantic submarine base. New London remains an active shipping town with ferries, fishing boats, a deep-water pier facility and the Munson Institute destination, Coast Guard Station New London.
Newport, RI — Two destinations attract the Munson Institute to famed Newport, the Museum at the US Naval War College, and the historic downtown, which contains more colonial structures on their original foundations than any other community in the country. The museum visit helps ground Institute discussion of naval policy and developments, while the walking tour of the old downtown connect to the American maritime story in a variety of ways. A late day peek at the mansions of Bellevue Avenue connect participants to the birth of seaside as recreation, another theme in the Munson Institute syllabi.
Cruises — Mystic Seaport is home to one of America’s few coal-fired passenger carrying steamboats, the Sabino. A summer evening cruise down river to the edge of Long Island Sound helps Munson participants understand the setting which so influenced local maritime development, as well as the inner workings of a 19th-century steam plant—just ask the engineer. This cruise is also a fine time to share a bottle of wine and a picnic dinner with your family of housemates. An evening sail on a replica whaleboat serves as a fine contrast, and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The program’s close relationship with the University of Connecticut at Avery Point also allows for a cruise on Fisher’s Island Sound aboard the modern marine science research and education vessel R/V Enviro-Lab. UConn faculty and ship’s crew guide Institute members on their tour of the local marine environment.