This program introduces students to coral reef environments, past and present. It describes the processes that control the distribution, growth, and morphology of reefs and introduces students to the complexity of the coral reef ecosystem. The course emphasizes the role that reefs play in the natural environment and examines their importance to society both globally (e.g. in terms of biodiversity and its potential benefits) and locally (e.g. in terms of food supply and tourism). We then look at the natural disturbances (such as disease, storms, and sea surface temperature variations) that affect the reef, as well as ways in which reefs are threatened from human impacts, with an emphasis on global climate change and the long-term outlook for reef survival.
Students will work in groups to research elements of the system, first at a global scale, and then focusing specifically on one region -- the Caribbean Sea. Students will look at the history of the Caribbean Sea and its relationship to the present nature and distribution of coral reefs. They will then examine these in the context of their social, cultural, and economic importance to local communities. A third component of the course will concentrate on the identification of vertebrate and invertebrate species and substrate conditions that are important indicators of reef health. Reef surveys will be performed in Curacao following the Reef Check protocol (a volunteer, community-based monitoring protocol designed to measure the health of coral reefs on a global scale).
The coral reef surveys will be conducted on SCUBA or snorkel, and the field trip and participation in the surveys are required elements of the course. Students who are not scuba certified will be given the opportunity to obtain open water scuba certification as part of the course, though the pool and classroom elements of the training must be completed during the previous semester. All SCUBA diving activities will be performed under the auspices of Penn State's Science Diving Program and its standards (the PSU Science Diving Program is a member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences). There will be an additional charge for the scuba certification course.
You will receive credit for all academic courses taken at this institution, and all of your grades from abroad will count toward your Penn State cumulative GPA. You may not take any courses overseas on a Pass/Fail basis. Students may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad. These courses will not be credited at Penn State. All students will register for and complete:
EARTH 240 (3 credits)
Introductory course to the geology and ecology of coral reefs, their importance in natural and human systems, and human threats to reef environments. Student assessment will be through individual and group presentations, discussions, exams and their contribution to the field program. The course satisfies part of the field requirement for the University's Marine Science Minor and serves as an introduction to the Science Diving Program.
The Penn State faculty members are both first aid/CPR/scuba-related emergency instructors. As part of the course, students will develop work plans that include emergency plans for specific activities.
Successful applicants will satisfy the pre-requisites established by the program leader:
- Kinesiology 45, or
- Equivalent SCUBA certification by an internationally recognized agency, or
- Faculty permission
Students will stay in hotel apartments, with the following amenities:
- Meal Plan
- Shared Room
- Shared Bath
- Laundry Service
For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.
Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.
For more information, please contact Timothy White or Rob Crane, the faculty leaders for this program in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. You may also schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.
If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page.
You must complete the following materials in your application:
- Education Abroad Questionnaire
- One academic recommendation
- Signature Documents
Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.
Application deadline: February 1, 2018
Studying Abroad with a Disability
Many students with disabilities successfully study abroad each year. Please note that other cultures may have different attitudes and available accommodations regarding disabilities. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged in consultation with our office, the Student Disability Resources office, and our partners abroad. To prepare for success, students are strongly encouraged to research the country and program location to consider if and how they will manage their disabilities abroad in advance of selecting a program. Students with disabilities and other diverse backgrounds can begin their research on our Diversity Awareness Abroad page.
|Term||Year||App Deadline||Decision Date||Start Date||End Date|
|NOTE: Start date marks arrival in host country. End date marks departure from program housing.|
Indicates that deadline has passed