Climate Change & Coastal Resilience Gap






Climate change significantly impacts communities residing near and relying on the ocean.

Increasingly, residents of vulnerable coastal communities are on the front lines in the struggle against rising seas and strengthening storm cycles. That struggle also raises complex issues of climate justice and public health, everywhere from large urban areas to small rural towns and villages.

Students participating in this program can expect the following:

  • Examine strategies for building coastal resilience and mitigating the impacts of sea level rise
  • Interact with local stakeholders, environmental activists, and urban design and climate change experts
  • Sail the Pacific and learn how climate change is affecting coastal communities

Spring 2025:

January 2 – March 28, 2025

January 2 – February 15, 2025: On campus in Woods Hole, MA

February 16 – March 28, 2025: At sea

Port stops:

Auckland, Wellington, Kaikoura, Dunedin, Lyttleton/Christchurch

Be sure to check out student blogs from past programs.

Program Blogs

Program Description

Climate Change and Coastal Resilience, a mid-level undergraduate program offered by Sea Education Association, takes a close look at the many ways climate change is affecting these coastal communities, and at strategies for building coastal resilience.

Beginning with a shore program in Woods Hole, students will gain a theoretical understanding of how climate change is impacting societies, ecosystems, and economies with lectures by climate scientists and policy experts, as well as through field trips to relevant research institutions and agencies in Woods Hole and Boston.

Academic Credit

This program carries 17 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program.

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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.

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Junior standing or consent of instructor.
Seminar focusing on communication skills development for environmental scholars. Introduces the field of environmental communication, examines environmental attitudes and behaviors, and develops a toolkit of communications strategies. Includes projects in data visualization, multi-media presentation and digital storytelling.

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.


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.


Practical Oceanographic Research (200-level, 4 credits)

(Previously titled Practical Oceanography II)
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.


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.


Syllabi for previous years are available for review. Detailed course content for future programs is dependent on cruise track, seasons, port stops, current events and faculty, and will be available closer to the program start date.


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