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SEA Semester: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean
At Sea, At Sea; Port Antonio, Jamaica; Samana, Dominican Republic; Santiago de Cuba, Cuba; St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands; Woods Hole, MA, United States; (Education Abroad Programs Program)
Program Terms: Spring Semester
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Sponsor: SEA Semester 
Dates / Deadlines:
There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Class Status:
2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year Minimum GPA Requirement: 2.5
Housing: University dormitory, With program group Language of Instruction: English
Education Abroad Advisor:
Martha Sadler
Subject Area:
Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Environmental Sciences, Foreign Affairs, History, Independent Study, Latin American Studies, Other Languages & Literatures, Sociology
Program Description:
SEA Semester Banner

Who Should Apply?

This change and adaptation-focused semester is appropriate for students in any major who wish to understand the legacies of colonization alongside the modern issues of climate change and sustainability in small nations and territories.

Program Description

Few places on Earth can compete with the natural beauty and rich, cultural diversity of the Caribbean Islands; and yet the Caribbean of today bears little resemblance to the islands encountered by Christopher Columbus over 500 years ago. Known now as a vacation destination, what is lost on many visitors is the complex and often devastating history of exploitation shared among all Caribbean Islands. That fateful day of ‘discovery’ and the waves of European expansion and colonization that followed represent one of the greatest environmental and human transformations of all time. The conquest of indigenous cultures, the exploitation of natural resources, and the development of slave plantation systems have left a legacy still visible today in the environment and identity of each island.

Tourists are encouraged to view the Caribbean as an unvaried and homogenous experience. In reality, each island, despite being stymied by centuries of colonial rule, encapsulates a unique community striving toward responsible economic growth, social justice and sustainable use of valued natural resources.

Over the course of this semester, students will be introduced to the Caribbean through first-hand accounts of island life and their own field-based observations of its natural resources, diverse ecosystems, and environmental and cultural resiliency. Exploration and examination of Caribbean history, culture and land/seascape on shore in Woods Hole will be furthered at sea by multi-day port stops at selected islands during the sea component. Students will confer with local experts whose insights will allow them to deepen their knowledge of issues of sustainability in the Caribbean. Past student research projects have explored topics including fisheries management, coral reef biodiversity, ecotourism, cruise ship pollution, gender in postcolonial societies, and regional cooperation initiatives.

Academic Coursework & Credit

SEA Semester: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean offers 17 credits from Boston University. Courses are as follows:

Maritime History and 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.

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.

Maritime Studies (200-level, 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.

Nautical Science (200-level, 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 (200-level, 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.

This program is currently not accepting applications.