Director of the River and Field Campus

Washington College, Center for Environment and Society Published: November 8, 2023
Chestertown, MD
Skill Level
Senior Level
Job Type
Analyst / Research / Education

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Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society (CES) fosters innovative approaches to understand human-environment interactions and sustainable solutions to environmental problems through research, education, and professional development of the next generation of citizens and leaders.

Operating from the new Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, a Living Building Challenge structure on the College’s waterfront campus, the Center provides an array of research and educational programs that combine civic engagement with experiential and place-based learning opportunities for students.

These offerings include: the innovative and interdisciplinary Chesapeake Semester; a Watershed Innovation Lab, with remote sensing instruments, robotics, and water quality monitoring assets; the Chesapeake Places Initiative, which links natural and cultural resources and uses archaeology and landscape history to learn from the past; a powerful Geospatial Lab; two research vessels; and the River & Field Campus with its natural and restored habitats, venues for field research and teaching, and the Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory.


CES seeks applicants for a Director of the River and Field Campus (RAFC). This is a full-time, salaried, exempt position. This position is part of a cluster hire of three research directorships at CES to build expertise and programming at the water-land-food-climate nexus. These three positions are endowed through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative Fund and private, philanthropic matches. They support applied research that will benefit the state of Maryland as well as provide hands-on, collaborative experiences for Washington College students and faculty.

Reporting directly to the CES Director, the Director of RAFC is a key member of CES’s leadership team who will develop research agendas and educational programming that support the implementation of sustainable land management for a multi-functional landscape.

RAFC is a 5,200-acre property located less than four miles from the main campus that is protected by a conservation easement, restricting development and preserving the rural integrity of the upper Eastern Shore. In 2017, the owner of the property began a transition of ownership to Washington College and RAFC is now managed by collective governance. The property includes 2.5 miles of Chester River shoreline, including a new parcel with a deep water dock to connect by boat to Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall; a 90-acre lake; nearly 3,000 acres in conventional agriculture; 360 acres that are certified organic; roughly 1,700 acres of mixed deciduous forest; almost 230 acres of restored Atlantic coastal prairie; an additional 500 acres in pine and oak savanna, wetlands, and transitional forest in the process of restoration; the Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory, a 75- acre bird-banding and research station; a house used for visiting researchers and students; and various farm buildings and support structures.

The Director of RAFC, together with the CES team and its collaborators, will develop transdisciplinary research and educational programming at the water-land-food-climate nexus. The Director should have expertise and develop a research agenda on forms of shared governance for sustainable, multi-functional landscapes with considerations for open access, privacy and safety, and economic vitality. RAFC presents a test bed to trial management strategies to meet the promise for significant boost to the regional economy while enhancing the quality of the land and water. The Director of RAFC will oversee activities at the property that fall into four major categories: agriculture, habitat restoration and conservation, research and education, and recreation. Potential stakeholders include hunting clubs, area landowners, farmers, and the Washington College athletics department. The ideal candidate will show proven experience in determining best practices for sustainable land use and negotiation skills with multiple parties and agendas.

Washington College’s new strategic plan includes sustainability, inclusivity, and civic engagement as key pillars for operations and academics. Together with undergraduate research mentorship, candidates should be interested and experienced in developing student-centered, trans- or interdisciplinary and collaborative research projects relevant to identified partners. Affiliation with the appropriate department for the candidate will be negotiated at hire.


  • Develop an applied research agenda inclusive of undergraduate students and external partners that results in a variety of potential research products
  • Collaborate closely with Washington College faculty, academic programs and departments, ensuring CES enjoys strong relationships across the institution and the greater community
  • Participate in and foster a team-oriented, transdisciplinary, and collaborative culture at CES
  • Teach one course per year to develop interest and capacity of students to engage in research and scholarship at CES
  • Mentor student projects and internships, and support students’ professional development
  • Represent CES and communicate research to multiple internal and external audiences
  • Successful seek external funding, individually and/or as a part of research teams
  • Collaborate with appropriate partners to develop, commercialize or market innovations
  • Work with CES Director to align with strategic goals of the Center and College
  • Report annually on activities
  • Manage the budget, assets, and physical space of the Watershed Innovation Lab
  • Contribute to the larger mission of CES in service to the Center and the College


  • A PhD in a relevant field, such as environmental science or studies, political science, sustainable development, or natural resource management, is required
  • At least five years of professional experience in higher education or research in any sector, particularly transdisciplinary research, or team science
  • Experience with mentoring undergraduates in research
  • Teaching experience
  • Experience with knowledge creation and research for collective governance
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Track record of earning extramural funding through grant writing
  • Track record of research productivity
  • Proven experience building interdisciplinary, national or international partnerships across private and public sector stakeholders
  • Demonstrative management skills
  • Experience with philanthropic donations is preferred, but not required

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