Sea Education Association (SEA) is committed to making our community, and Woods Hole, more diverse and inclusive for students and scientists alike.
Statement on Racial Injustice
July 2, 2020
This is SEA’s second statement on Black Lives Matter. We listened to many alumni and staff who told us that our first statement failed to rise to the level of the crisis engulfing our nation. Thank you to those who reached out for helping us do better.
We offer a full-throated endorsement of the Black Lives Matter movement. We acknowledge and condemn the long history of violence directed at Black people in the United States. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer exposes, yet again, the brutal and systemic violence upon which the edifice of racial injustice in the US has been grounded since the seventeenth century. It is important to name the victims of this system of oppression. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Sandra Bland are tragically just the recent examples of Black people who have been killed by police. We remember too Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, James Chaney, Emmett Till, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., Laura Nelson, Mary Turner and countless other Black victims who died not at the hands of police but of white citizens enacting the violence of racial oppression.
All of these victims, named and countless more unnamed, followed centuries of chattel slavery that has left an indelible stain on our past. They are who matter. African Americans who live in the shadow of that violence, actual and implied, are who matter. This statement is intended to offer our unequivocal acknowledgement of that history of persecution and the violence that has been inflicted on Black bodies as a central tool of that oppression.
How will SEA respond to this moment beyond this statement of support and solidarity for Black Lives Matter initiatives as well as the broader set of movements of people of color working to undo the system of white privilege in the United States? First, we acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do. We have to challenge our own organizational culture as well as work to combat the racial inequalities embedded in the educational system in which we participate. Here are the specific steps that we will take moving forward:
- We are committed to pursuing a more diverse faculty, staff, crew, and governing board until our community looks like the United States as a whole, because it is the right thing to do and because it will make SEA a better, more complete institution, while also greatly enhancing the delivery of our educational mission to all students.
- We recommit to expanding our recruitment of underrepresented students by increasing our financial commitment to scholarship opportunities for students of color and by deepening our connections to colleges and universities that are dedicated to serving those students.
- We are committed to continue the process of decolonizing our pedagogical practices by incorporating more works of Black, Indigenous and people of color as well as by partnering more fully with scholars, activists and organizations based in places we visit regularly.
- We commit to identifying and correcting our unconscious biases. We commit to seeking more opportunities to educate ourselves as an institution and as a partner in the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative.
- Finally, we pledge to enhance our transparency on issues of diversity in both our employees as well as our student population by making this information readily available on our website. It is this transparency that holds institutions accountable, and we plan to be accountable.
SEA is a founding member of the six-institution Woods Hole Diversity Initiative. Read our Joint Statement.
The environmental issues we address and explore at SEA are global in nature and can only be better understood through the engagement of multiple stakeholders and perspectives. We believe that diversity is a strength to be developed in our programs, on our ships, in our community, and in our world. We believe that by acting together, we can accomplish more than by any of us acting alone. We recognize that the ocean doesn't separate us; it connects us. We are committed to understanding and strengthening those connections every day through hands-on education, stewardship development, and sail training at sea.
Woods Hole Diversity Initiative | Partnership Education Program (PEP)
Under a pioneering Diversity Initiative partnership launched in 2004 with the five other scientific institutions in Woods Hole, SEA has helped to broaden the pathways for students from all backgrounds to learn about the ocean. Such opportunities include our high school, pre-college, and undergraduate study abroad programs, as well as the Partnership Education Program (PEP).
PEP is a multi-institutional effort designed to promote diversity in the Woods Hole scientific community. This unprecedented partnership program provides fellowships for study and research in Woods Hole each summer, and is designed for college juniors and seniors underrepresented in STEM fields who want to spend 10 weeks gaining practical experience in the marine and environmental sciences. In addition to housing PEP students on our campus for the duration of their fellowships, SEA offers a PEP alumni scholarship award in the hopes that PEP students will return for a SEA Semester program, further developing their affinity for and networks within the Woods Hole community.
Through our institutional partnership with Diversity Abroad, the leading organization advancing diversity and inclusive policies and practices in the field of international education, SEA is part of a consortium that is working to advance access, diversity, equity and inclusion in undergraduate off-campus study programs. We are committed to making our SEA Semester programs more representative of the undergraduate population and sending institutions that we serve.
Through our generous need-based aid program, we are committed to ensuring that all qualified and motivated students can afford to participate in SEA Semester. Last year, we awarded over $1.4 million in need-based gift aid and merit awards, and the average scholarship was $13,600. We offer a number of Diversity Awards for students whose participation in SEA Semester will enhance the SEA community. We also offer a Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Award: an automatic scholarship of $5,000 to any student from a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) participating in a Fall, Winter, or Spring SEA Semester program.