Oceans & Climate

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Participate in groundbreaking climate science research…

Contribute to baseline climate research in the Pacific. Engage with stakeholders directly impacted by climate change. Hone your science communication and coding skills as you build your climate scientist toolbox!

SPRING 2023: February 13, 2023 – May 14, 2023
aloft

Spring 2023 Voyage:

Cruise Track: Pape’ete, Tahiti to Honolulu, HI

Destinations & Port Stops: This is an open-ocean voyage without port stops.

February 13, 2023 – March 25, 2023: Shore component in Woods Hole

March 30, 2023 – May 14, 2023: At sea

Program Highlights

  • Conduct baseline climate research
  • Interpret findings for a broad audience
  • Make a long, blue-water sailing passage
  • Interface with leading climate science and communication experts in Woods Hole
  • View full program descriptionView full program description 

Academic Credit

Oceans & Climate carries 18 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program.  View course descriptions & syllabi

Who Should Apply?

Ocean’s and Climate is ideal for upper-level science students to help them develop their understanding of the ocean’s role in climate dynamics and to build their tool kit in research, data visualization, and science communication. Students interested in exploring the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle and climate system, as well as investigating the history, challenges and uncertainties of climate-related policies from local to international are encouraged to apply.

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.

CONTACT ADMISSIONS
Students on ship

“I can proudly say that in only a weeks time I have gained a substantial amount of knowledge, confidence, and responsibility while aboard the vessel, and I can say the same for every student on board as well. Together we have built a stable, interdependent system that will undoubtedly succeed in delivering us to both our scientific goals and sailing destinations throughout the Lesser Antilles region.”

Max Acheson, Rollins College

Program Description

Understanding climate change and its associated impacts is the critical scientific challenge of today, and the timely application of this knowledge to public policy is crucial to the future of our planet. Our oceans are at the forefront of these changes but remain some of the least understood parts of the global climate system.

This intensive semester invites upper-level science students to develop their understanding of the oceans’ role in climate dynamics and to build their tool-kits in research, data visualization, and science communication; skills all climate scientists must have in order to be effective advocates for our oceans. You’ll be introduced to current topics in oceanic climate change – from natural climate variability to recent anthropogenic influences to the uncertainties of tomorrow – and be guided through the development and execution of an independent, cutting-edge climate-focused research project. You’ll also interpret your findings in the form of data graphics and science communications to impact the public’s understanding of a changing ocean environment.

Skills Gained

  • Primary literature analysis
  • Proposal development
  • Data interpretation and visualization
  • Communication of science for the general public
Students on ship

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Three lab science courses (one at the 300-level or higher) or consent of instructor.
Ocean as carbon source and sink. Examine global-scale flux patterns and carbon storage mechanisms, from solubility/biological pumps to geo-engineering. Explore buffering capacity and mitigation strategies in the face of anthropogenic carbon cycle perturbations. Oral presentation and written research proposal required.

Syllabus

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Information visualization and communication strategies, and associated software, emphasizing engagement with diverse audiences. Learn data visualization coding and radio production skills. Develop graphics and/or multimedia products supporting research projects in concurrent courses. Compile iterative digital portfolio.

Syllabus

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.

Syllabus

Prereq: Admission to SEA. Three lab science courses (one at the 300-level or higher) or consent of instructor.
Tools and techniques of the oceanographer. Participate in shipboard laboratory operations to gain experience with deployment of modern oceanographic equipment and collection of scientific data at sea. Emphasis on sampling plan design, advanced laboratory sample processing methods, and robust data analysis.

Syllabus

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.

Syllabus

Life on Shore

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.

C-300 Class at Woods Hole
Volleyball on campus
Student at helm

Life at Sea

While the shore component is one of the hallmarks of SEA programs – providing important preparation for a successful ocean voyage – not surprisingly, students look forward to the day they ship out.

As your time in Woods Hole comes to an end, you’ll feel a mix of excitement and perhaps some trepidation as well. You and your shipmates may ask, “Can we really do this?” Because of the intentional design of all SEA programs, you can be confident that the answer is, “Yes!”

The sea component of SEA programs immediately immerses you in applying practically what you have just learned in the classroom on shore. As you set sail, you take on three roles: student, crewmember, and researcher. Life at sea is full as you take ocean measurements and samples; participate in classes; stand a watch as part of an around-the-clock schedule, on deck and in lab; and assist with navigation, engineering, meal preparation, and cleaning. Depending on the voyage, you may also make port calls – an opportunity to break from the rhythm of life at sea and to visit a foreign destination, not as a tourist, but as a working sailor and researcher.

Privacy and sleep are both limited aboard ship, yet there is always time for personal reflection. Teamwork takes precedence as you assume increasing levels of responsibility for the well-being of your shipmates and the ship itself. “Ship, shipmate, self” will be your new mantra, representing a shift in priorities for all on board. A phased leadership approach over the course of your time at sea will allow you to gradually assume the majority of shipboard responsibilities under the watchful eye of the professional crew. Near the end of every program, each student will lead a complete watch cycle as part of a rewarding final capstone experience.

When you step off one of our ships, you’ll take away academic credits, self-confidence, lifelong friends, a toolbox of skills and knowledge, and a sense of direction that will serve you far beyond your voyage.

Life at sea is concentrated: every moment holds more substance, texture, and complexity than I am ever aware of on land. Tapping in to the rhythms of a ship, you slip like a cog into a well-oiled machine: each part has purpose, and together things run smoothly. This environment is one where actions have meaning, repercussions are real, and each moment teaches the meaning and value of hard work done well. At sea I learn that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for.SARAH WHITCHER, Clark University, Biology Major

* Due to COVID19, some programs in 2021 – 2022 may reduce or omit port stops.

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2022-05-11T11:48:57-05:00
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