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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Moorea, French Polynesia
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • PROGRAM COST: Spring
  • To open an application, contact Study Abroad Program Advisor (see box below for contact information)
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2018 03/20/2018
Rolling Admission TBA TBA
NOTE: Program dates TBD. Do not book travel until you have been fully enrolled in the program and moved to Step 3.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed
Fact Sheet:
GPA: 2.75 Disciplines offered: College of Arts and Sciences, History (HIST), Marine Science (MARS), Undergraduate
Service-Learning: Yes Research: Yes
Graduate Courses Offered: No Program Advisor: Derek Brendel -
Tuition Remission Eligible Program: No Program Type: Undergraduate
Program Description:


SEA Education Association (SEA)

Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems

Spring Semester Program





SEA Education Association (SEA) offers college students a study abroad that challenges them intellectually and physically by combining the sailing adventure of a lifetime with the study of the deep ocean.


SEA students participate in a 12-week program that takes place half on shore and half at sea. The interdisciplinary program begins in Woods Hole, MA one of the world's great centers for ocean research.


SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems (SPICE) attracts students who want to understand environmental, political, and cultural changes from an interdisciplinary perspective and in an historical context. This writing-intensive program is particularly appropriate for environmental studies/science majors, but students of any major are encouraged to apply. Limited to 24 students per cruise.






Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems (SPICE)


The islands of French Polynesia have a history of demonstrated sustainability despite the fact that they have been profoundly shaped by European colonization. Today, they are thought by many to be so dependent on those colonizers that they cannot sustain themselves without foreign financial support. At the same time, a movement for independence looks towards a sustainable future that acknowledges the persistence of the Polynesian culture. In this semester, we examine what the future holds for these islands, and whether they can give us answers that apply to other regions of the globe as well.

Developed by SEA faculty in conjuction with Tahitian partners, SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems (SPICE) begins with a shore component in Woods Hole where students will be introduced to the history, culture and geography of Polynesian Islands. Visiting scholars will share their work on resource management, Polynesian voyaging and navigation, and traditional art and cultural practices.

Students will then join the crew of the SSV Robert C. Seamans for a 7-week sailing research voyage. They will visit several South Pacific islands and confront challenging questions of colonial conflict, cultural identity, and environmental justice, while examining reltaionships between political structures, culture, and the natural environment. They will also explore issues of sustainability with local officials and visit historical, cultural and agricultural sites. Using state-of-the-art shipboard lab and research facilities, they will investigate the complex factors that threaten fragile island ecosystems and the surrounding marine environment.

The program concludes with a shore component in New Zealand where students will compile their research and present their findings in the form of a collaboratine online atlas.


Special Program Features


Central to students' academic work is the production of a web based historical, cultural, and environmental atlas of Polynesia. As researchers, authors, editors, and fact-checkers of atlas entries, students engage in every aspect of a humanities-based research project.


Access the SPICE program atlas!


Who should apply?

This semester is particularly appropriate for Environmental Studies/Science majors but students from any major are encouraged to apply. Limited to 24 students per cruise.




 NOTE: Core Curriculum designations on this list pertain to the OLD Core only 

 Maritime History and Culture: Island Peoples, CAS NS 322 (4 credits)

The ocean both isolates and connects the islands of Polynesia, influencing the maritime knowledge and technology that have defined it for millennia. This course explores how the sea has influenced the development of Polynesian art, literature, religion, vessel design, navigation, and patterns of settlement. It also examines the impact of European colonization, the devastating loss of native populations to disease, the suppression of traditional cultural practices, and the modern Polynesian cultural and political response.


Marine Environmental History: Island Environments, CAS NS 323 (4 credits)
This course is designed to explore the impact of human actions on island and marine ecosystems, and the local, regional, and international responses and strategies developed to mitigate and manage that impact. Students examine the subject matter from several perspectives, using the methods and sources of both the sciences and the humanities.


Nautical Science: Navigating the Marine Environment, CAS NS 223 (3 credits)
Mariners face many challenges and questions when planning and executing an ocean voyage. Nautical Science will explore these fundamental questions from a historical and contemporary perspective as we plan and execute our own voyage in Polynesia. This course also examines concepts in meteorology including the impact of weather on voyage planning and execution.


Oceanography: The Ocean Environment, CAS NS 221 (3 credits)
This oceanography course provides students with the scientific foundation needed to use scientific equipment and instruments onboard the ship to investigate the planet's oceans. While learning about modern ocean studies and technological advances in instrumentation, students develop proposals for original research projects to be carried out at sea.


Maritime Studies: European Perspectives of Polynesia, CAS NS 222 (3 credits)
This course will look at European and American source materials that helped invent the notion of paradise in Polynesia, including the narratives of Captain James Cook and the novels of Herman Melville. In addition to published materials, students will examine manuscript logbooks and journals of American mariners who visited Polynesian islands in the nineteenth century, and objects collected on those voyages that survive in New England collections.



 For a detailed description of program costs please see the Program Cost in the box at the top of this webpage. Click on the link which corresponds to the term you plan to study abroad.

 Sea Education Association (SEA) is pleased to announce a variety of new merit-based financial aid awards for SEA Semester students. For more information, please, click here.




 All students are expected to live on the SEA campus in student housing. Each house accommodates 10 students. Please take note of the following:

 · The cost of food is included in your program cost. Each house is provided with a weekly prepaid grocery card. Students provide their own food and do their own cooking in fully equipped kitchens. You will plan menus, shop, cook, and clean after meals as a house. This setup provides great community building!

· Bring bed linens and towels. Each student is provided with a pillow and a standard size twin bed. There are laundry facilities in one of the student cottages.


· Each student bedroom has desks and storage areas.


· Students may bring cars to campus. A bicycle is also helpful to have during the Shore Component (spring, summer, fall).


· No pets allowed.


On board ship, you will share space with up to 35 people. Your bunk will line the inside of the ship somewhere between the bow and the stern. Each bunk has two small storage areas. Though there is very little personal space, your ship and shipmates become your home and family for six weeks.

 Take a virtual tour of one of SEA's ships!



Coming Soon!






CLICK HERE to read testimonials




Download the SEA Viewbook


For more information or to apply, contact: Justin Berens (


   SEA 2

To open an application, contact Study Abroad Program Advisor (see box below for contact information)