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Field Trips
Boston, Massachusetts

The Local Arrangements Committee has organized 10 exciting adventures for conference attendees, nine on Friday afternoon, March 24, 2023, and a post-conference field trip on Sunday, March 26, 2023. Space is limited, so sign up now on the registration page.

NOTE: Field trips will use public transportation if possible. ASEH is subsidizing student fees to increase access to field trips.



1.  Walden Pond  12:15 – 5:00 pm [SOLD OUT]

Leader:  Brian Donohue

Number of people:  Maximum 45

Includes Lunch. Bus to Walden.

This tour will start at the Brister Freeman house site near Walden--Freeman was a Concord slave who served in the Revolutionary War and gained his freedom. We will then visit the Beanfield, the Thoreau House site, and circle most of the Pond to return to the visitors center. We will be joined by Dr. Richard Primack, author of Walden Warming

Cost:  $65 / $40 Student


2.  Deer Island  12:30 - 5:00 pm [SOLD OUT]

Leaders:  Jay Turner, Pam Ellis, Metropolitan Water Resources Authority

Number of People:  Maximum 45

Includes Lunch. Bus to Deer Island.

Deer Island is a site of both grave injustice and environmental stewardship. During King Philip’s War, Native Americans living upstream on the Charles River in Natick were forcibly removed and imprisoned on Deer Island at an internment camp. Since 1968, Deer Island has served as a waste treatment plant for the Boston metropolitan area, becoming the centerpiece of efforts to reduce effluent in Boston harbor in the 1990s, recapture nutrients, and promote renewable energy generation. The field trip will include a presentation by Pam Ellis, a 13th-generation Nipmuc survivor and advocate, on the meaning of Deer Island to the Indigenous community. Representatives of the Metropolitan Water Resources Authority will lead a tour showcasing the waste treatment plant. It will be walking tour. In case of poor weather, the tour will be canceled. Participants will need to provide government identification to MWRA in advance of tour (ASEH will facilitate this process).

Cost:  $65 / $40 Student


3.  Birding at Mount Auburn Cemetery and Fresh Pond 12:30 – 5:00 pm

Leaders: Fritz Davis and Brookline Bird Club

Number of people:  Maximum 45

Includes Lunch. Bus to Cambridge.

Less than six miles from downtown Boston, Mount Auburn Cemetery is significant as the first garden cemetery in the United States, and alse serves as one of the premier birding destinations in Massachusetts. Its distinctive horticultural collection attracts many specimens of migratory and year-round birds. This birding trip will cover many of the 174 acres of Mount Auburn Cemetery, along with parts of historic Fresh Pond in Cambridge. This field trip is also open to those more interested in a good walk than birding. We will be joined by an expert guide from the Brookline Bird Club.

Cost:   $65 / $40 Student


4.  Boston's Southwest Corridor Walking Tour 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Leaders: Karilyn Crockett and Abby Spinak

Participants:  Maximum 25

Lunch NOT Included. Approximately 2 miles of walking.

Led by MIT Urban Historian Karilyn Crockett, this field trip will be a walking tour of Boston’s Southwest Corridor, a linear park created in the wake of community organizing that successfully stopped the proposed extension of Interstate 95 through the middle of Boston and Cambridge in the 1960s. The tour will visit sites integral to the anti-highway protests and their subsequent redesign as a park, transit corridor, and home to significant Boston institutions in the late twentieth century. It will also explore more recent uses of the park as a public green space, including Boston’s vibrant urban farming and community garden network. Based on Karilyn Crockett’s recent book, People Before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making, this tour will highlight the work of community activists and include discussions about placemaking, collective memory, and the politics of archives in the history of urban social movements.

Cost: $25 / $15 Student


5.  Harvard Museum of Natural History 1:00 - 4:00 pm [SOLD OUT]

Leaders: Harriet Ritvo

Participants:  Maximum 25 

Lunch NOT Included. Public transportation to Harvard Square.

A group visit to the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Established in 1859 by Louis Agassiz, Harvard's zoology museum contains a collection of millions of specimens, with thousands on display at any moment. Participants will take public transit to Harvard Square (instructions will be provided). Please note: lunch is not included as part of this trip, but participants will have plenty of options to choose from in Harvard Square.

Cost:  $20 / $10 Student


6.  Environmental History Walking Tour of Downtown Boston 1:30 - 3:30 pm [SOLD OUT]

Leader:  Andrew Robichaud

Participants:  Maximum 25

Lunch NOT Included. Requires two to four miles of non-strenuous walking.

A walking tour of downtown Boston, focusing on key environmental history sites: Boston’s Back Bay, Boylston Street Fishweirs, parts of Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace and Muddy River, the Public Garden, the Boston Common, and more. Total walking distance of about 3 miles and total time of about 2 hours.

    Cost:  Free

    7.   Boston Harbor Boat Tour  12:15 - 5:00 pm

    Leaders: Bob Chen, Joe Bagley, Local Experts

    Participants:  Maximum 100

    Includes Lunch. Public transportation to UMass Boston and 15 minute walk to the boat dock.

    Join the Acting Dean of the UMass Boston School for the Environment, Bob Chen; the Boston City archeologist, Joe Bagley; and other local experts for a tour of Boston Harbor aboard the UMass Boston research vessel. Today Boston Harbor, along with all of New England, faces some of the swiftest rates of sea level rise: over a foot in the last century, and likely another 16-21 inches more between 2000 and 2050. On this tour we will learn about how scientists and researchers at UMass Boston’s School for the Environment use Boston Harbor as a site for investigations into ocean chemistry, island erosion, and marine biology, as well as community history and climate change research. This tour includes lunch. Participants will need to reach UMB by taking the MBTA and walking 15 minutes on flat ground to the boat dock (ASEH will provide tickets, public transportation guides, and help coordinate ride-share for anyone with mobility limits). Dress warmly for spray and wind. This trip is weather dependent: if there is just too much New England, we’ll have to cancel.

    Cost: $50 / $30 Student

    Sponsored by the UMass Boston School for the Environment

    8.   Arnold Arboretum Walking Tour  12:15 - 5:00 pm

    Leader: Laura Clerx

    Participants:  Maximum 45

    Includes Lunch. Public transportation and approximately 1 mile walk to Arboretum.

    This walking tour of the Arnold Arboretum will bring participants on a guided journey through Boston’s “living museum” of trees and woody vegetation. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the late nineteenth century as a portion of Boston’s Emerald Necklace park system, the Arnold Arboretum is dedicated to making one of the world’s best collections of global plant biodiversity open for the diverse population of Boston and surrounding regions to enjoy on a daily basis. Participants will gain insight into the nineteenth and twentieth century history of the Arboretum’s involvement in scientific exploration and collecting in east Asia and around the world, as well as the local history of their engagement with the city of Boston. As one of the city’s first free cultural institutions, the Arboretum has been committed, since their 1872 founding, to “the foundational and democratic commitment to free and equal open [natural/green] space” for urban residents.

    Cost: $30 / $20 Student

    9.   Tour of the Leventhal Map & Education Center and the Boston Public Library  1:00 - 3:00 pm [SOLD OUT]

    Leader: Garrett Nelson Dash

    Participants: Maximum 24

    Cost: Free

    The Boston Public Library is the oldest large municipal public library in the United States and one of the nation’s foremost public research libraries. It is also home to the Leventhal Map & Education Center, a hub for the public study of historical geography. This excursion will feature a guided tour of the Leventhal Center’s 2023 exhibitions Building Blocks: Boston Stories from Urban Atlases and Becoming Boston: Eight Moments in the Geography of a Changing City, as well as a special look at items from the Center’s collections which document themes in environmental history. The tour will also feature a visit to the recently-renovated Special Collections Reading Room and a walk through the art and architecture of the Central Library’s two buildings in Copley Square.

    Sponsored by the Leventhal Map & Education Center


    10.  Harvard Forest and UMass Amherst Design Building 8:30 am – 6:00 pm

    Leaders:  Sarah Phillips, Brian Donahue, Emma Ellsworth

    Participants:  Maximum 25

    Includes Lunch. Bus to Petersham and Amherst.

    We will journey to Petersham in central Massachusetts to visit the Harvard Forest Fisher Museum. Created in the 1930s, the museum uses dioramas to depict changes in the New England landscape and to promote forest conservation and management. We will discuss changing ideas about history and conservation and learn more about the work of Harvard Forest from staff, perhaps including a short woods walk. At lunch we will be joined by Emma Ellsworth, executive director of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust to discuss the work of land trusts in the region today. In the afternoon we will journey on the UMass Amherst to tour the Design Building, an award-winning mass timber building using glulam beams and cross-laminated timber panels. We will return to the hotel in Boston by 6 PM.

    Cost:  $135 / $85 Student

    Thank You
    to the Sponsors of ASEH 2023

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