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The Global Ocean

SEA Semester: The Global Ocean

Humans are tied to the ocean... No matter your major, if you’ve always wanted to know more about the ocean, this is the SEA Semester for you. Customize your experience by selecting the electives that best suit your interests, and explore your ideal location through this diverse place-based curriculum. Sail in the waters of New Zealand to learn about this nation's unique relationship with its ocean environment.

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Overview: Winter/Spring 2018 | New Zealand

Voyage Map

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Application Deadline: November 1, 2017

What?

In this semester, students will explore the unique environmental and complex cultural influences that have shaped these islands. They will also visit marine and coastal protected areas and various ports of call to examine the relationship between different cultural groups and the ocean environment that surrounds them.

Where?

Cruise Track: Auckland, New Zealand » Christchurch, New Zealand
Destinations: Auckland › Russell › Wellington › Dunedin › Christchurch
Port stops subject to change.

When?

January 2 – March 23, 2018

Jan. 2 – Feb. 9: On shore in Woods Hole
Feb. 13 – March 23: At sea

Program Highlights

  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Explore relationships between people and their ocean/coastal environment
  • Choose electives to tailor coursework
  • Engage in a place-based curriculum

Who Should Apply?

This semester welcomes students from all majors. Elective credit allows students to choose a program track that best meets their academic needs.

Program Description

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Human actions have caused measurable changes in the global ocean. The rate at which resources are being extracted and pollutants are being added is significantly impacting human health, global economic systems, and local cultural practices – and threatens to further degrade the world’s oceans. Many coastal communities are already struggling to cope with sea level rise, depleted fisheries, loss of habitat, and increased catastrophic storm effects. To understand how such changes occur we need to look not only at how natural systems work, but also at the histories, cultures, and policies of people who live on coasts and islands in different regions. This requires a place-based, multi-disciplinary approach, drawing from the humanities, sciences, social sciences and arts.

New Zealand, called Aotearoa by the Maori, is our laboratory. As an island nation, the health of its ocean, land, and people are inextricably tied. With jurisdiction over a huge area of ocean and one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world, New Zealand’s marine ecosystems range from sub-tropical to sub-Antarctic, deep trenches to shallow banks, and coastal mangrove forests to coral reefs. In 1993, New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park became the first UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape site, acknowledging the spiritual links between the Maori community and their natural environment. Having made a national commitment to sustainable management of such resources, New Zealand’s innovative policy and conservation efforts at times compete with its desire for economic prosperity.

Reciprocal interactions with diverse communities in ports of call and a real-world view of ocean issues from the deck of a sailing research vessel will offer a unique perspective on one of the most pressing environmental issues of the twenty-first century: the human impact on the environment.

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Academic Credit

SEA Semester: The Global Ocean carries 17-18 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program.

Required Core Courses

Leadership in a Dynamic Environment (300-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Be an effective leader while leveraging the individual strengths of a team. Use leadership theory and case studies to understand how decisions affect outcomes. Participate as an active member of a ship’s crew, progressively assuming full leadership roles.

Maritime History & Culture (300-level, 4 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Explore impacts of European maritime ventures on the societies they contacted in the Atlantic or Pacific, with focus on the resulting social, political, economic, and cultural changes. Investigate responses documented in the post-Colonial literature of indigenous people.

The Ocean & Global Change (300-level, 4 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Ocean ecosystem change in the anthropocene: warming, acidification, fisheries depletion, and pollution. Review principles of circulation, seawater chemistry, nutrient dynamics, and biological production to understand causes and consequences of change. Conduct field measurements for contribution to time-series datasets.

Electives (Choose Two)

Cultural Landscapes & Seascapes: A Sense of Place (300-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Field-intensive analysis and documentation of dynamic relationships between nature and culture in specific coastal, island, and ocean places. Apply cultural landscape and related interdisciplinary bio-cultural approaches to place-based environmental studies.

Data Communication & Visualization (300-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Information visualization strategies and associated software, emphasizing communication to diverse audiences. Select between geospatial (GIS) and qualitative data foci. Develop graphics and/or multimedia products supporting research projects in concurrent courses. Compile iterative digital portfolio.

Toward a Sustainable Ocean: Conservation & Management (300-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Comparative and issue-driven introduction to managing human uses and conserving coastal and ocean places and resources.  Explore concepts of technology, governance, sector and ecosystem management, and marine protected areas through expert content lectures, topical seminars, and field trips.

Your Choice of Research Courses:

Directed Oceanographic Research (300-level, 4 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Three lab science courses (one at the 300-level or higher) or consent of instructor.
Design and conduct original oceanographic research. Collect data and analyze samples. Compile results in peer-reviewed manuscript format and share during oral or poster presentation session. Emphasis on development of research skills and written/oral communication abilities.

-- OR --

Practical Oceanographic Research (200-level, 4 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Introduction to oceanographic research. Design a collaborative, hypothesis-driven project following the scientific process. Collect original data. Conduct analysis and interpretation, then prepare a written report and oral presentation.

Syllabi

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"I arrived in Woods Hole with no knowledge of sailing or oceanography but learned an incredible amount through my 12 weeks with SEA Semester. I learned so much about myself, about teamwork, about leadership, and about research. It was an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone looking for adventure and challenge."

Allie Ivanowicz
Davidson College
Biology Major