Boston University Affiliated Programs: Sea Education Association/SEA Semester

Sea Education Association (SEA) is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education. SEA offers six SEA Semester programs: The Global Ocean, Ocean Exploration, Oceans & Climate, Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean, Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems, and Marine Biodiversity & Conservation. SEA also offers three short-term (4- and 8-week) SEA Summer Sessions: Transatlantic Crossing, Historic Seaports of Western Europe, and Protecting the Phoenix Islands. All SEA programs incorporate an interconnected suite of courses designed to explore a specific ocean-related theme using a cross-disciplinary approach. By 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 allows 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 modern marine environmental issues faced by communities long tied to the sea. To understand how global ocean change occurs we need to look not only at how natural systems work, but also at the histories, cultures, and policies of the people who live on coasts and islands in different regions. This requires a place-based, multidisciplinary approach, drawing from the humanities, sciences, and social sciences and the arts; among other tools, students will use the 10 metrics of the Ocean Health Index. The program begins with six weeks of shore-based preparation followed by a six-week sailing voyage to gather primary data at sea and in multiple port stops. While at sea students also develop leadership and teamwork skills as part of the sailing crew. 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

An interdisciplinary 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 wider historical and social perspective on human impact on the ocean and the experience of going to sea, and building the seamanship tool kit necessary for safe operation of a tall ship. 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 exotic ports.

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

  • CAS NS 221
  • CAS NS 222
  • CAS NS 223
  • XAS NS 225
  • XAS NS 226

SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate

An upper-level science semester focused on the role of the oceans in setting the Earth’s climate, with particular 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 320
  • CAS NS 321
  • XAS NS 324
  • 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 authentic 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 protection strategies with experts in conservation science and policy 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: Transatlantic Crossing

This four-week program, including one week of voyage preparation in Woods Hole, is designed for students representing a wide diversity of interests who are enthusiastic about exploring the shifting state of the North Atlantic marine ecosystem on this long offshore passage. All students will be prepared for and participate fully in the sailing and laboratory operations, but may select an emphasis on scientific research or leadership. The research track offers the opportunity to carry out predetermined research projects on spatial patterns in ocean ecology. The leadership track offers the opportunity to develop and practice lifelong leadership skills.

One elective course (3 or 4 credits) bridges the shore and sea components:

  • CAS NS 239 or XAS NS 226

SEA Summer Session: Historic Seaports of Western Europe

This four-week program examines the major historical transformations in European maritime activity in the eastern North Atlantic, paying particular attention to the development of fisheries (late medieval to the present), trade (early modern to modern), and nautical technology. The program begins with a brief preparatory shipboard shore component in the first port and continues with several short cruise legs combined with a longer passage along the coast of Western Europe. All students will be prepared for and participate fully in sailing operations and port stop activities, but the coursework emphasizes maritime history and culture. Students carry out predetermined research on the human connection with the ocean during port stops in France, Portugal, and Spain.

One course is offered: CAS NS 322.

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

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.