Program Details

An environmental studies intensive semester focused on the people and islands of Polynesia in an effort to learn what they can tell us about the global issues of environmental sustainability and cultural continuity. Tahiti, Bora Bora, Nuku Hiva, and Moore
Location:
Faaa, French Polynesia; Programs at Sea, Programs at Sea
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:
Undergraduate
Term:
Spring Semester, Winter Semester

Program Overview

Program Description:
SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems attracts students who want to understand environmental, political, and cultural changes from an interdisciplinary perspective and in an historical context. This program is particularly appropriate for environmental studies/science majors, but students of any major are encouraged to apply. Limited to 24 students per cruise. 17 credits through Boston University.

An environmental studies intensive semester focused on the people and islands of Polynesia in an effort to learn what they can tell us about the global issues of environmental sustainability and cultural continuity. Tahiti, Bora Bora, Nuku Hiva, and Moorea are names which evoke romantic images of sandy beaches, lush palm trees, and exotic native people. Polynesians reached this remote region of the South Pacific in voyaging canoes as early as 3,000 years ago. They developed cultural practices and technologies determined by the unique environmental challenges of each island. Europeans arrived in these islands 250 years ago and described a paradise of abundance. When the two groups met, European diseases devastated Polynesian people and commercial interests forced the abandonment of traditional practices that had developed in fragile, limited ecosystems. In this semester, we examine what the future holds for these islands, and whether we can discover answers that will apply to other regions of the globe as well.

Why study the oceans? No matter your major, ocean studies are an essential component of any liberal arts education. The ocean has a daily impact on you, and you on it. Isn't it worth one semester to study three-quarters of the world? Let SEA Semester take you there.
Setting Description:
Students begin with a 4-week shore component in Woods Hole, Massachusetts with intensive coursework, team-taught by a scientist, historian, and sea captain. They then join the crew of the SSV Robert C. Seamans to sail among the islands of Polynesia for 7 weeks. As researchers, students visit the islands to meet local people as well as to explore historical, cultural, and agricultural sites. Combined with the use of state-of-the-art shipboard laboratory and research facilities, they investigate the complex issues of environmental sustainability and cultural continuity. The program finishes with a 1-week shore component in Hawaii to wrap up final projects.

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