SEA Summer School: Protecting the Phoenix Islands

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General information

SEA Summer Programs 2018: Phoenix Islands Protected Area

Sail throughout the last coral wilderness on Earth in order to preserve its future. A joint effort with international collaborators, this program invites students to explore the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), a tropical ocean wilderness of diverse deep-ocean ecosystems dotted by eight spectacular coral islands. Students will conduct research that will assist in the ongoing development of an effective conservation plan for the region.

Beginning with a three-week shore component in Woods Hole, students use PIPA as a case study to develop their own research project in either ocean science or conservation policy. They then join the SSV Robert C. Seamans for a five-week research voyage throughout the archipelago, which includes an equatorial crossing.

Students will collect samples from the marine environment and visit the region's islands and pristine coral reefs. By providing real-time data, student projects will ultimately compose a picture of the state of the ocean for the benefit of the PIPA management office in Kiribati.



This 8-week summer session welcomes students to explore one of the last coral wildernesses on Earth through one of two academic tracks: science or policy.


Cruise Track: Honolulu, HI to American Samoa
Destinations: Honolulu > Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) > American Samoa


June 11 – August 13, 2018

June 11 – 29: On shore in Woods Hole
July 5 – August 13: At Sea

Program Highlights

  • Examine impacts of El Niño
  • Contribute data to inform marine conservation policy
  • Study oceanography of tropical oceans
  • Collect baseline data to assess impacts of climate change

Who Should Apply?

This program is ideal for students with an interest in conservation policy and marine science. Students may choose a policy or science track, offering flexibility in project topics and transfer credit. We welcome students of all majors to apply.

Learning outcome:

The Ocean & Global Change (300-level, 4 credits)

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.

Toward a Sustainable Ocean: Conservation & Management (300-level, 3 credits)

Comparative and issue-driven introduction to managing human uses and conserving coastal and ocean places and resources.  Explore concepts of technology, governance, sector and ecosystem management, and marine protected areas through expert content lectures, topical seminars, and field trips.


Your Choice of Research Course Options: 

Advanced Ocean Policy Research (400-level, 4 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Junior standing or consent of instructor.
Advanced policy research focusing on a topic of current importance (may include fisheries, biodiversity, marine spatial planning, and cultural heritage). Emphasis on theoretical concepts, research methods, and communication skills. Requires critical review paper, original research, final report and presentation.

-- OR --

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.

Contact Person: (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography", "1041 - Navigation and seamanship


Venue: SSV Robert C. Seamans
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States





Admission to SEA Semester.

Application Procedure:

Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions


Academic level: Master, PhD, Lifelong Learning
Occupations (not validated):
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