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External: SEA Semester - Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems
Woods Hole, United States (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Academic Year,
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This program is currently not accepting applications.
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Program Sponsor: SEA Semester 
Restrictions: BC applicants only
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Fact Sheet:
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Accommodation: Dormitory GPA Requirement: 3.0
Language of Instruction: English Minimum Language Requirement: None
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Program Type:
Approved External Program
Program Description:
Program Description:
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Who Should Apply?

SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems (SPICE) attracts students from all majors who want to understand environmental, political, and cultural changes from an interdisciplinary perspective and in an historical context. This writing-intensive program is particularly appropriate for environmental studies/science majors, but students of any major are encouraged to apply.

Program Description

The islands of French Polynesia have a history of demonstrated sustainability despite the fact that they have been profoundly shaped by European colonization. Today, they are thought by many to be so dependent on those colonizers that they cannot sustain themselves without foreign financial support. At the same time, a movement for independence looks towards a sustainable future that acknowledges the persistence of the Polynesian culture. In this semester, we examine what the future holds for these islands, and whether they can give us answers that apply to other regions of the globe as well.

Developed by SEA faculty in conjunction with Tahitian partners, SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems (SPICE) begins with a shore component in Woods Hole where students will be introduced to the history, culture and geography of Polynesian Islands. Visiting scholars will share their work on resource management, Polynesian voyaging and navigation, and traditional art and cultural practices.

Students will then join the crew of the SSV Robert C. Seamans for a 7-week sailing research voyage. They will visit several South Pacific islands and confront challenging questions of colonial conflict, cultural identity, and environmental justice, while examining relationships between political structures, culture, and the natural environment. They will also explore issues of sustainability with local officials and visit historical, cultural and agricultural sites. Using state-of-the-art shipboard lab and research facilities, they will investigate the complex factors that threaten fragile island ecosystems and the surrounding marine environment.

The program concludes with a shore component in New Zealand where students will compile their research and present their findings in the form of a collaborative online atlas.

Special Program Features

Central to students' academic work is the production of a web based historical, cultural, and environmental atlas of Polynesia. As researchers, authors, editors, and fact-checkers of atlas entries, students engage in every aspect of a humanities-based research project.

Academic Coursework & Credit

SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems offers 17 credits from Boston University. Courses are as follows:

Maritime History and Culture (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.

Marine Environmental History (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.

Nautical Science (3 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Learn the fundamentals of sailing ship operation, in preparation for direct application at sea. Navigation (piloting, celestial and electronic), weather, engineering systems, safety, and sail theory. Participate as an active member of the ship’s crew on an offshore voyage.

Oceanography (3 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Explore how interconnected ocean characteristics (bathymetry, seawater chemistry, biological diversity) and processes (plate tectonics, surface and deep-water circulation, biological production) shape global patterns across multiple scales. Discuss destination-specific environmental issues and hot topics in marine research.

Maritime Studies (3 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Relationship between humans and the sea. History, literature and art of our maritime heritage. Ships as agents of contact change. Political and economic challenges of contemporary marine affairs. Destination-specific focus.

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This program is currently not accepting applications.