Gap Year Climate Change & Coastal Resilience






Pursue a more sustainable relationship with our oceans…

  • Sail the Pacific and learn how climate change is affecting coastal communities
  • 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
SPRING 2024: January 2, 2024 – March 20, 2024

Gap Year Options:

SEA gap year programs can be taken on either a credit-bearing or non-credit basis. Participants choosing the college credit option will earn credit from Boston University. Participants selecting the non-credit option fully participate in all aspects of the program, but do not receive grades or academic credit. Please contact SEA admissions to discuss which option is best for you.

The price for non-credit gap is $18,750; for credit option is $29,975


Spring 2024 Voyage:

Cruise Track: Auckland, New Zealand to Christchurch, New Zealand

Planned Port Stops (subject to covid conditions): TBD

January 2, 2024 – February 9, 2024:  Shore component in Woods Hole

February 12, 2024 – March 20, 2024: At sea

Academic Credit

This program carries 18 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program.

Who Should Apply?

Any student, regardless of major, interested in the human dimensions of climate change.

SEA Admissions and Financial Aid staff members offer individual advising and assistance to help students complete the application process. We encourage you to contact one of us to learn if SEA is right for you.

New Zealand

“I couldn’t be more proud of my shipmates, and how far we have all come from the first day on the ship. We have grown as a unit to be a successful, powerful team that can conquer any challenge.

Jaeger Hodge, University of Southern California

Program Description

Climate change hits home for those who live near 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.

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.

Featured Blog

Matthew Watowich, Carleton College

It is so hard to contextualize and transcribe this experience. How do I describe the ephemera of events transpired? The excitement of witnessing a whale breeching at sunset? The feeling of leaning over the bow to watch dolphins at 1:00 AM?

These are the thoughts racing my mind as I type this entry while we begin to pull into our anchorage in the small town of Kororareka Russell, our first stop since our departure from Auckland roughly four days ago. Looking through the porthole of my bunk, I can just begin to decode the coastline. The definite lines of the houses and buildings materialize from the lush, dense forest background among which they are nestled. The soft yellow sand rises from above the choppy waves that we left behind since pulling into this more protected bay. It is hard to believe that we have only been sailing for four days, much less that I have been in Aotearoa New Zealand for just a week, as due to the abundance of activities that have taken place, it feels like we have been here for much longer.

Student on mast

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
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.


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.


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.
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.

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.


Syllabus 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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