Who Should Apply?
SEA's Oceans & Climate: Energy Semester attracts upper-level students interested in exploring the ocean's role in the global carbon cycle and climate system, including investigating the history, challenges and uncertainties associated with our current scientific understanding and policy suite, and the potential to utilize ocean resources for energy security. Limited to 25 students per cruise.
Prerequisites: A minimum of two lab science courses, at least one at the 200 level OR two sequential 100-level labs. Not sure if you qualify? Contact your Admissions Counselor.
Understanding climate change is the predominant scientific challenge of our time, and the timely application of this knowledge to public policy is crucial to the future of the planet. Why, however, think about climate change and energy together? The impacts of human activity on global climate change are a major concern for society and ecosystems of all types. Reliable energy sources will always be needed; alternative technologies and resources may relieve U.S. and international dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change; however, there are associated environmental impacts, political implications and economic concerns. In this semester, students explore innovative applications of science and policy towards a sustainable marine ecosystem and future energy security in a setting that offers both adventure and international perspective. They examine how the world’s oceans – past, present and future – function within the global climate system while concurrently developing an understanding and awareness of the political framework, relevant policies, and planning, technological and scientific issues surrounding and at the limits of knowledge of the climate and energy sectors. Strategies employed by different communities and nations are explored as we examine decision-making, cost/benefit analysis and resource management from local to global scales.
SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate offers the opportunity to delve into these timely topics in the real world context of ocean science and management. The multi-faceted nature of the program reflects the reality that there are no single-discipline problems. As they explore crucial climate questions, students will interact with SEA colleagues in myriad fields (e.g., marine science, policy, journalism, economic development and more) and hone their critical evaluation, systems thinking, interdisciplinary problem- solving and both formal and creative communication skills that will prove of value to the next generation of engineers, scientists, advocates and policy-makers.
On Shore in Woods Hole
During the six week shore component, students engage in intensive coursework in the fields of oceanography and climate science, marine and energy policy, and nautical science, all of which focuses on central issues linking energy demand and production to the current climate situation and our oceans. They develop original scientific research projects to be conducted at sea; project topics will relate to either climate or energy questions relevant to the Equatorial Pacific and be driven by student interests.
Students have access to SEA faculty, guest experts, and the world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Marine Biological Laboratory Library. They also explore local and regional issues at the energy-society-environment interface, including case studies of the Cape Wind project and the still- present effects of New England oil spills. Field trips may visit selected Woods Hole laboratories and research vessels, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, power plants, sustainable energy facilities, the Woods Hole Research Center, and relevant conferences or events.
At Sea in the Tropical and Equatorial Pacific
As full, working members of the scientific team and sailing crew aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, students deploy oceanographic sampling equipment, manage shipboard operations, navigate by the stars, and make observations in port stops off the beaten path. Climate issues and energy topics remain prominent themes throughout the sea component as we explore both small island nations reliant upon external support and the Robert C. Seamans itself as a closed system using and producing its own power and water resources. Students implement their experimental design, analyze collected data, and present their scientific and policy-related findings upon completion of the sea component. Field trips may include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, and other energy facilities.
Special Program Features
Students work individually with SEA faculty and a series of visiting lecturers, all of whom are specialists in their fields, to design an original research project during the shore component. A poster session and scientific paper allow students to present their findings to one another.
Previous Distinguished Lecturers have included:
Dr. Scott Doney, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (SEA Semester Alumnus)
Dr. Hugh Ducklow, Marine Biological Laboratory
Dr. Andrea Hawkes, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Rick Murray, Boston University Marine Program (SEA Semester Alumnus)
Dr. Sarah Das, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (SEA Semester Alumna)
Dr. Cynthia Pilskaln, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Dr. Christopher Sabine, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Lab
Dr. Jorge Sarmiento, Princeton University