Students Set Sail to Study Biodiversity, Culture

Students Set Sail to Study Biodiversity, Culture

Imagine spending 90 days sailing around the Caribbean studying biology, culture and history in places like Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba. That’s exactly what a handful of fortunate students from the College could be doing this coming spring semester in a new study abroad program entitled Biodiversity and Culture of the Caribbean.

What’s truly unique about this program is that it will all take place on board a traditional wooden tall ship – the Spirit of South Carolina.

Students who are interested in participating in this study abroad program are invited to attend an open house on board the Spirit of South Carolina this Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The ship is berthed at the Charleston Maritime Center, just south of the College’s Harbor Walk campus.

Professor Andy Shedlock, the director of the new study abroad program.

According to marine biology professor Andy Shedlock – the director and originator of the program – every moment spent on the ship will be a chance to learn.Prof

The students who participate in this program won’t just be living on board, they’ll also be sailing and operating the 140-foot, classic vessel. And not only will they have the opportunity to take a full semester of courses (16 credit hours) in four different disciplines (biology, African American Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies and physical education), but they’ll also benefit from a mode of experiential learning that’s unlike any other.

“This program offers exceptional opportunities,” Shedlock says. “The captain, crew and ship are all world-class, and coupled with the destinations we’ll be visiting, this program provides the perfect platform for developing a keen awareness and working knowledge of diversity – both biological and cultural.”

Shedlock will be teaching the two biology courses offered within the program (Biogeography and Conservation Biology). Other courses include Introduction to Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Special Topics: Voodoo and Visual Culture, and Basic and Intermediate Sailing.

“I really think this experience will be transformative for students,” Shedlock says. “We’ll be in Cuba at an extremely interesting time in that country’s history. We’re planning to take excursions on all of the island nations that we visit. We’ll be in and out of national parks and World Heritage sites and engaging extensively with people from local communities. We’ll snorkel and visit environmental projects and marine stations, and we’ll be collecting water samples, capturing images, conducting interviews and taking drone videos everywhere we go, so the research opportunities for students will be exceptional.”

Ultimately, Shedlock hopes that students who enroll in this program will form a genuine understanding regarding the forces that have shaped the patterns of diversity.

“They’ll become good observers and data recorders,” he says, “and at the same time, they’ll be learning to think critically about how to explain those patterns and then how to use that knowledge to design solutions that are sustainable.”

The application deadline for the spring 2019 Biodiversity and Culture of the Caribbean study abroad program is Nov. 1, 2018. For additional information about the program, visit the program’s website.


Featured image: Students will spend three months sailing and studying aboard the Spirit of South Carolina as part of the College’s new study abroad program Biodiversity and Culture of the Caribbean.