At the beginning of every SEA program, up to 25 students from various institutions across the U.S. — and often the world — come together on SEA’s residential campus in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on scenic Cape Cod, just down the road from the village of Woods Hole, a world-renowned hub of oceanographic research and discovery.
During this initial shore component, you’ll undertake coursework with SEA faculty that will prepare you personally, academically, and practically for the second part of your experience at sea. You’ll develop an original research project, explore the connections between humans and the ocean, and learn the principles necessary to crew a tall ship. You’ll also have access to some of the world’s foremost scientists and policymakers addressing the leading environmental questions of today.
Living in fully furnished private cottages on our campus, you’ll share all of the responsibilities of community living including grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning. From day one, your class will begin building skills in teamwork, communication, and collaboration, all of which will prepare you for the demands of living and working together at sea. Everyone will play a role in meal planning, provisioning (each house gets a pre-paid grocery card on a weekly basis), and meal prep, which is a great opportunity to hone your organizational and budgeting skills – not to mention putting your culinary skills to the test!
Morning and afternoon classes take place a short walk away from the cottages in the main academic building, the Madden Center. This facility also hosts the library, computer lab, science lab, faculty offices, and is home to the SEA administrative offices. A midday break allows time for lunch, a pickup game of frisbee, soccer, or volleyball, or a run along the local beach. Then it’s back to the classroom. The course schedule is intensive, with academic activities scheduled from roughly 9am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. Evenings and weekends are usually free, though sometimes community activities are organized by your faculty or the Head Resident on campus.
The shore component is one of the hallmarks of SEA programs. It prepares you to be effective in your roles as researcher, crewmember, and shipmate at sea, and equips you with the tools to embark upon a successful ocean voyage.
The Second Shore Component of SEA’s Caribbean Reef Expedition will be held at the Feather Leaf Inn, located on the west coast of St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with field work done at many sites across the island. For each site we visit, we will offer both historical and local context prior to arrival and opportunities for discussion. Working intentionally with the local community and prior students, SEA continually learns from our experiences and as an organization is committed to being conscientious academic partners, travelers, and allies.
SEA has worked cooperatively with local communities in the both the Atlantic and Pacific for nearly 50 years; we acknowledge the painful legacy of colonization that has included genocide, the enactment of forced assimilation, enslavement and the violent support of plantation regimes,, and efforts by many to eliminate indigenous cultures. We respect and honor the Taino and Kalinago peoples along with their cultures, and the descendants of forced migrants still connected to this land. SEA faculty, staff, and students are willing to learn from the way of life which has existed in this area for nearly 15,000 years. We also recognize that words are not enough and we are committed to an ongoing effort to decolonize our curriculum and engage in antiracist practices.
The Feather Leaf Inn was chosen after careful consultation with faculty, former SEA students and local collaborators, to ensure an learning facility that is respectful of Caribbean history and best suits the intended educational programming.