Boston University Affiliated Programs: Sea Education Association/SEA Semester

Sea Education Association (SEA) is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education. SEA Semester programs are multidisciplinary learning communities that address critical environmental issues of our time: climate change, sustainability, biodiversity, human impacts on the environment, and environmental justice. SEA offers seven SEA Semester programs: The Global Ocean, Ocean Exploration, Oceans & Climate, Caribbean Reef Expedition, Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean, Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems, and Marine Biodiversity & Conservation. SEA also offers two short-term SEA Summer Sessions: Protecting the Phoenix Islands and Pacific Reef Expedition. All SEA programs incorporate an interconnected suite of courses designed to explore a specific ocean-related theme using a cross-disciplinary approach. Combining initial academic coursework in a residential environment in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, with a hands-on voyage aboard a sailing research vessel at sea, SEA programs permit students to put their newfound knowledge and skills immediately into practice. SEA accepts students from all majors, and no prior sailing experience is necessary.

Programs

SEA Semester: The Global Ocean

An interdisciplinary semester that explores the environmental issues faced by communities long tied to the sea. To understand how global ocean change occurs, we need to study marine systems in tandem with the course of societies that populate coastlines around the world. This requires a place-based, multidisciplinary approach, drawing from the humanities, sciences, and the arts. The program begins with six weeks of shore-based preparation followed by a six-week sailing voyage on an oceanographic research vessel. While at sea, students develop leadership and teamwork skills as part of the sailing crew while gathering project data at sea and in port. There are multiple Global Ocean offerings each academic year.

A total of five courses (17 or 18 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

Required Courses

  • CAS NS 322
  • CAS NS 326
  • CAS NS 329

Elective Courses (select two)

  • CAS NS 226
  • CAS NS 327
  • CAS NS 328
  • CAS NS 330
  • XAS NS 325

SEA Semester: Ocean Exploration

A multidisciplinary introduction to ocean studies that combines natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences with hands-on research and sailing experience. During an initial six-week shore component in Woods Hole, students prepare for the research voyage by designing collaborative oceanographic research projects, gaining a historical and social perspective on human interaction with the oceans. As full working members of the scientific team and sailing crew, students will spend the final six weeks at sea managing shipboard operations, navigating by the stars, analyzing oceanographic samples, and visiting foreign ports of call.

A total of five courses (17 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

Required Courses

  • CAS NS 221
  • CAS NS 222
  • CAS NS 223

Elective Courses (select one)

  • XAS NS 225
  • XAS NS 226

SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate

An upper-level science semester focused on climate change, in particular the role of the oceans in setting the Earth’s climate, with emphasis on carbon cycling. While on shore, students design independent oceanographic research projects to be carried out during the six-week research cruise, learn the fundamental skills for operating a sailing research vessel, and examine and develop skills to address public policy challenges associated with contemporary changes to ocean and coastal environments. Students are guided throughout the semester by SEA faculty and distinguished visiting lecturers from the Woods Hole scientific community and from major institutions around the country. At sea, students gain practical experience in offshore scientific research, carry out all sailing and oceanographic vessel operations, and complete their research project.

A total of five required courses (18 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

  • CAS NS 223
  • CAS NS 321
  • CAS NS 330
  • XAS NS 324
  • XAS NS 325

SEA Semester: Caribbean Reef Expedition

An investigative science and policy semester examining the impacts of human actions on Caribbean coral reef ecosystems and the effectiveness of existing reef management strategies. Beginning with four weeks on shore in Woods Hole, students develop background knowledge to understand history, science, leadership, and policy strategies involved in managing coral reefs. During two weeks in the US Virgin Islands in a seaside, scientific field station they develop and refine reef survey techniques, and collect initial observations for comparative reef projectsThe semester culminates with four weeks at sea, during which students gain practical experience in all sailing and oceanographic vessel operations, visit several Caribbean islands and partner with local, academic, and governmental agencies to compare their approaches to coral reef management, and assess the effectiveness of different approaches to coral reef management while completing their comparative reef projects.

A total of five courses (18 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

Required Courses

  • CAS NS 320
  • CAS NS 323
  • CAS NS 326
  • CAS NS 329

Elective Courses (select one)

  • XAS NS 226
  • XAS NS 325

SEA Semester: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

A social sciences and humanities-intensive semester focused on understanding 500 years of environmental, political, and social change throughout the diverse islands of the Caribbean region. Over the course of this semester, students are introduced to the Caribbean through firsthand historical accounts of island life followed by their own field-based observations of the region’s natural resources, diverse ecosystems, and environmental and cultural resiliency. During the six-week shore component in Woods Hole, students explore and examine Caribbean history, culture and land/seascape through team-taught courses. Their research is then furthered at sea by additional coursework in environmental change as well as multi-day port stops at selected islands during the six-week sea component. Students conduct sampling surveys of the area’s biology, geology, chemistry, and physics while visiting a variety of international ports to examine the Caribbean history and culture.

A total of five required courses (17 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

  • CAS NS 221
  • CAS NS 222
  • CAS NS 223
  • CAS NS 322
  • CAS NS 323

SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

An environmental studies semester that takes an interdisciplinary look at the people and islands of Polynesia and Oceania in an effort to learn what they can tell us about the global issues of environmental sustainability and cultural continuity. The impacts of environmental change are being felt all over the globe, affecting people and ecosystems in even the most remote locations. A four-week shore component in Woods Hole prepares students through academic coursework. During a seven-week sea component in the South Pacific, several remote islands serve as a laboratory for studying the effects of such environmental change. Students complete the program with a one-week shore component in New Zealand to consolidate their research and produce a web-based atlas.

A total of five required courses (17 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

  • CAS NS 221
  • CAS NS 222
  • CAS NS 223
  • CAS NS 322
  • CAS NS 323

SEA Semester: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

An upper-level science- and policy-intensive program that integrates the exploration of marine biodiversity with conservation planning for the Atlantic high seas region known as the Sargasso Sea. The program is composed of a framework-building initial four-week shore component, followed by a five-week research cruise and a final three-week interdisciplinary synthesis phase back ashore in Woods Hole. Practical scientific and policy research skills are introduced and practiced. Students share their scientific research and conservation and policy strategies with experts in the field during a one-day capstone Symposium convened on the SEA campus.

A total of five required courses (18 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

  • CAS NS 223
  • CAS NS 320
  • CAS NS 450
  • CAS NS 460
  • XAS NS 325

SEA Summer Session: Protecting the Phoenix Islands

This eight-week program invites students to explore one of the last coral wildernesses on earth through one of two academic tracks: science or policy. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is one of the Pacific’s largest marine protected areas and is located in a region of the world that remains largely unexplored and rarely visited. During the first two weeks on shore in Woods Hole, students will begin a survey of large-scale marine conservation efforts. Using PIPA as a case study, students will develop their own science or policy research project. The program concludes with a six-week research cruise to PIPA, where students will document the oceanic ecosystem around this archipelago. Working alongside professional scientists, students will provide real-time data that will lay the groundwork for an effective conservation plan.

A total of three required courses (11 credits) bridge the shore and sea components:

  • CAS NS 326
  • CAS NS 328
  • CAS NS 325 or NS 460

SEA Summer Session: Pacific Reef Expedition

This four-week program explores widespread changes to the marine environment, impacting both the ecosystems and the people that inhabit the Pacific Ocean’s coral reefs. It is given entirely aboard ship but also includes several hours of mandatory online participation prior to the voyage. Students conduct snorkel-based photographic and visual surveys of local corals, fish, and invertebrates found among three distinct island atolls along the cruise track. In small teams, students will examine the richness and variety of marine life in coral reef environments at various locations, carrying out predetermined research projects while sailing across the Equatorial Pacific. Data collected during this voyage will enhance our understanding of the ability of reefs to endure and adapt to global climate change.

One course is required: XAS NS 226.

For more information on program content, application, and tuition, please contact Sea Education Association; in writing: SEA, P.O. Box 6, Woods Hole, MA 02543; phone: 800-552-3633; website: www.sea.edu; email: admission@sea.edu.

Courses

  • CAS NS 221 Oceanography (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 222 Maritime Studies (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 223 Nautical Science (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 320 Ocean Science and Public Policy (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 321 Oceans in the Global Carbon Cycle (4 cr)
  • CAS NS 322 Maritime History and Culture (4 cr)
  • CAS NS 323 Marine Environmental History (4 cr)
  • CAS NS 326 The Ocean and Global Change (4 cr)
  • CAS NS 327 Cultural Landscapes and Seascapes: A Sense of Place (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 328 Toward a Sustainable Ocean: Conservation and Management (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 329 Leadership in a Dynamic Environment (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 330 Data Communication and Visualization (3 cr)
  • CAS NS 450 Advanced Topics in Biological Oceanography (4 cr)
  • CAS NS 460 Advanced Ocean Policy Research (4 cr)
  • XAS NS 225 Oceanographic Field Methods (4 cr)
  • XAS NS 226 Practical Oceanographic Research (4 cr)
  • XAS NS 324 Advanced Oceanographic Field Methods (4 cr)
  • XAS NS 325 Directed Oceanographic Research (4 cr)

For course descriptions, see the Academics section on the SEA website.