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SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems
Auckland, New Zealand; Nuku'alofa, Tonga; Pago Pago, American Samoa; Suva, Fiji; Vava'u, Tonga (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Sponsor: SEA Semester 
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Restrictions: F&M applicants only
Budget Sheets Fall
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Housing Options: Dorm, Other
Term: Spring
Partner Institution:
SEA Semester
Program Advisor: Claire Retterer Area of Study: Anthropology, Biology, English Literature, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, History, International Studies, Sciences, Sociology
Program Type: Field Study
Program Description:
SEA Semester Banner

Who Should Apply?

SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems (SPICE) attracts students from all majors 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.

Program Description

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 conjunction 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 relationships 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 collaborative 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.

Academic Coursework & Credit

SEA Semester: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems offers 17 credits from Boston University. Courses are as follows:

Maritime History and Culture (4 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor. 
Explore impacts of European maritime ventures on the societies they contacted in the Atlantic or Pacific, with focus on the resulting social, political, economic, and cultural changes. Investigate responses documented in the post-Colonial literature of indigenous people.

Marine Environmental History (4 credits) 
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Sophomore standing or consent of instructor.
Employ methods and sources of historians and social scientists. Examine the role of human societies in coastal and open ocean environmental change. Issues include resource conservation, overfishing, pollution, invasive species, and climate change.

Nautical Science (3 credits)
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.

Oceanography (3 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Explore how interconnected ocean characteristics (bathymetry, seawater chemistry, biological diversity) and processes (plate tectonics, surface and deep-water circulation, biological production) shape global patterns across multiple scales. Discuss destination-specific environmental issues and hot topics in marine research.

Maritime Studies (3 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Relationship between humans and the sea. History, literature and art of our maritime heritage. Ships as agents of contact change. Political and economic challenges of contemporary marine affairs. Destination-specific focus.

Franklin & Marshall Academic Policy
F&M requires all students to enroll in a full course load at the host institution or off-campus study program. You can typically find this information on the program partner's website. In many cases, this will be four or five courses for a semester. Many programs grant course credit in U.S. semester credit hours. Franklin & Marshall will award four F&M course credits for a total of 15 or 16 U.S. semester credit hours.  If the total number of credits for your program is more than 16 or less than 15, divide the total number by four to find out how many course credits you will receive (this includes summer study).

Courses on off-campus study programs must be taken for a letter grade, not on a pass/no pass basis. Grades from off-campus study program courses will appear on your Franklin & Marshall transcript, but they will not be calculated into your cumulative GPA.

Courses taken off-campus may be able to satisfy major, minor, language or distribution requirements (Arts, Humanities, Social Science, Non-Western Cultures or Natural Science Lab) in addition to general elective credit. Courses may fulfill more than one requirement. Please note that Franklin & Marshall cannot issue transfer credit for a course taken in a department that is not represented at the College.  If a course does not clearly fall under a department, the off-campus study advising staff can help you determine whether or not it can be accepted for credit.

Franklin & Marshall Housing Policy
Housing options during your off-campus study program will vary by program. Some programs may allow students to choose their housing option; other programs require all students to live in a certain type of housing. Typical housing arrangements may include apartments, homestays, or on-campus housing at a local university. Please visit the program homepage to determine your program's housing options or requirements.

Please note that some programs may offer students the option to pursue independent housing (outside of the regular housing options provided by the program). F&M does not allow students to choose independent housing unless there is a significant academic or cultural reason (such as wanting to live in a homestay when only apartment housing is provided). Independent housing carries many risks and F&M and the program provider cannot provide any support to students who pursue independent housing. Students who are interested in pursuing independent housing will need to contact their off-campus study adviser to petition for approval to pursue this option.

Financial Policy, Financial Aid and Scholarships
During the academic year, students will continue to be eligible for financial aid during a term of off-campus study.   This includes federal and state loans and Franklin & Marshall merit scholarships and need-based grants.  In general, eligibility for financial aid is based on Franklin & Marshall tuition, cost of housing and meals from the off-campus study program, and an allowance for books and personal expenses.  Your annual estimated family contribution as generated by your FAFSA will remain the same regardless of program costs. Students who receive Grant-in-Aid benefits will continue to access these benefits for the semester off-campus. This benefit is only available to students of eligible full-time F&M faculty and staff.

Students may be eligible for additional scholarships outside of F&M, please review the Scholarships section of the website for more information.

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2018 10/20/2017 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA
Fall 2018 03/20/2018 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of F&M approval for this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.