Undergraduates Investigate Ocean Conservation and Sustainability Onboard Tall Sailing Ships

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Groundbreaking New Study Abroad Program, SEA Semester®: The Global Ocean Incorporates Ocean Health Index into Curriculum

SEA Semester students working onboard SSV Corwith Cramer

SEA Semester: The Global Ocean, is the first undergraduate program in the world to incorporate metrics of the Ocean Health Index into curriculum.

This fall, undergraduate students from top colleges and universities nationwide are utilizing the newly created Ocean Health Index to explore environmental issues related to climate change, conservation, and sustainability of the world’s oceans in a groundbreaking new study abroad program offered by Sea Education Association. SEA Semester: The Global Ocean, is the first undergraduate program in the world to incorporate metrics of the Ocean Health Index – a comprehensive, global evaluation of the human impact on the world’s oceans – into curriculum. Following a highly selective application process, these forty-four students are spending six weeks on shore at SEA Semester’s campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and six weeks at sea, sailing as crew and scientists onboard SEA Semester’s state-of-the-art ocean research vessels, operating in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

“The multi-disciplinary aspect of these programs coordinates beautifully with the varied metrics of the Ocean Health Index. It’s very exciting to be able to incorporate this tool into our new curriculum. ‘The Global Ocean’ is a natural evolution for SEA, growing not only out of our experience in the forefront of ocean-going programs, but in addressing one of the most important issues of our time, the impact of human actions on the environment…” said Dr. Mary Malloy, Director of the Global Ocean program.

First outlined in 2012 to support current ocean resource management policies including the US National Ocean Policy and the EU Maritime Strategy, the Ocean Health Index (OHI) was created through the work of more than 65 scientists/ocean experts as well as contributions from organizations including the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Conservation International, National Geographic, and the New England Aquarium. Multiple SEA Semester alumni, faculty and supporters have been integral in the Index’s formation including SEA Overseer Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue and former SEA Assistant Scientist Greg Stone (currently Executive Vice President for Conservation International). The Index uses ten metrics: biodiversity; food provisioning; carbon storage; coastal protection; sense of place; tourism & recreation; artisanal fishing opportunities; coastal livelihoods & economies; natural products; and clean waters; allowing for a comprehensive comparison of ocean health over time and between countries.

In a recent interview on campus at Sea Education Association, Dr. Greg Stone of Conservation International said, “I'm delighted that SEA is embracing this [Ocean Health Index], using it in the curriculum. I’ve seen the effect Sea Education Association has had…It’s been a catalyst for many careers in ocean affairs and ocean sciences.”

For the program’s launch, SEA Semester premiered two voyage options: a choice of Western Europe or New Zealand. Both options focus on global issues surrounding ocean health including research and policy, while also exploring the histories and cultural traditions unique to each locale. Students in The Global Ocean: Western Europe program are sailing in the Atlantic Ocean en route to the Canary Islands. Students in The Global Ocean: New Zealand program are currently on campus, participating in classes and electives to prepare them for their own voyage which begins in Auckland, New Zealand on November 14. Read the current voyage blog here.

About Sea Education Association/SEA Semester®
Sea Education Association (SEA) is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education. For nearly 45 years and over one million nautical miles sailed, SEA has educated students about the world’s oceans through its Boston University accredited study abroad program, SEA Semester. SEA/SEA Semester is based on Cape Cod in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts and has two research vessels: the SSV Corwith Cramer, operating in the Atlantic Ocean, and the SSV Robert C. Seamans, operating in the Pacific.

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Jennica Deely
Sea Education Association
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