This hands-on coral reef study at sea program is ideal for students with an interest in conservation policy and/or marine ecosystems. Students will approach solutions to effective reef management in the context of history, policy, and science. We welcome students of all majors to apply.
Develop and refine snorkel-based reef survey techniques
Conduct research at a field station in the Virgin Islands
Contribute to marine conservation policy efforts
Assess effectiveness of reef management strategies
Throughout human history, coral reefs and their intricately linked ecosystems have protected islands from eroding and provided food resources for growing human populations. Coral reefs attract tourists and drive economic development, and force us to take pause and marvel at their natural beauty and abundance. A healthy reef is not only part of a healthy ocean but also a thriving, successful island community. Nowhere is this more true than in the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, coral reefs face many threats related to human excess. Overfishing, reduced water quality, physical disturbance, invasive species, and rising temperatures and lower pH due to climate change all threaten the health of reef ecosystems, and reduce their ability to provide the important ecological services that the Caribbean people have come to rely upon.
Effective solutions to the management of coral reefs requires an understanding of the historical context underpinning the economic, political, and cultural landscape of the Caribbean today alongside the scientific foundation of how the oceans and climate interact and leadership skills enabling decisive, effective action and engagement. During this program, students will examine how a variety of local and international organizations, communities, and businesses have joined together to protect, conserve, and sustainably manage coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean.
Beginning on shore in Woods Hole, you will develop the background knowledge to understand history, science, leadership, and policy strategies. Two weeks in the U.S. Virgin Islands in a seaside, scientific field station setting will afford you the opportunity to develop and refine your reef survey techniques, and collect your first observations for your comparative reef project.
During four weeks aboard the SSV Corwith Cramerstudying abroad at sea, you will learn how to crew a tall ship and hone your leadership skills, all while surveying the ocean environment. You will visit several Caribbean islands and partner with local, academic, and governmental agencies to compare their approaches to coral reef management. Continuation of your coral reef surveys will allow you to assess the effectiveness of different approaches to coral reef management.
Academic Coursework & Credit
SEA Semester: Caribbean Reef Expedition offers 18 credits from Boston University. Courses are as follows:
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.
Marine Environmental History (300-level, 4 credits) Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor.
Employ methods and sources of historians and social scientists. Examine the role of human societies in coastal and open ocean environmental change. Issues include resource conservation, overfishing, pollution, invasive species, and climate change.
Ocean Science & Public Policy (300-level, 3 credits) Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor.
Culture, history, political systems and science can shape ocean policy. Practice current strategies to build, analyze, and communicate about diverse policy issues. Examine the power, use and limitations of science and the scientist's voice in determining ocean policy.
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.
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.
Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.