South Caicos, TCI
English instruction
Fall, Spring, Summer
Semester: 16 credits
Summer: 4 or 8 credits
Rolling admissions


The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) provide students with the opportunity to learn the concepts and skills needed to understand marine ecosystems and island community dynamics. Snorkeling and scuba diving in the waters surrounding South Caicos, students learn field research and monitoring techniques to identify and assess the health of a wide range of marine organisms and habitats. In the community, students consider the challenges of assessing the rights and needs of local stakeholders and reconciling those with conservation goals.

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  • Learn about tropical marine ecology, evaluate fisheries management and policies, and practice field research skills in one of the most pristine marine habitats in the tropical Western Atlantic
  • Scuba dive and snorkel for fish, coral, seagrass, and mangrove identification exercises
  • Take an excursion to neighboring Providenciales, Middle Caicos, and North Caicos: tour aquaculture operations and desalination plants; explore the caves and bat colonies of Middle Caicos; discover the tropical dry forests of North Caicos; absorb local ecological knowledge of bush medicines and foods; and study the rich cultural history of the territory
  • Study ecosystem function and anthropogenic impacts on marine environments
  • Examine habitat enhancement and restoration practices
  • Attend lectures by Department of the Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) officials on the government's fisheries regulations and enforcement
  • Participate in a site tour from a local tourism developer and take part in a discussion on plans for constructing residences and a resort
  • Visit local seafood processing plants and participate in discussions with operators


Session I: Tropical Marine Ecosystems: Monitoring and Management

Students explore the ecological and socioeconomic aspects of various tropical marine ecosystems, learning how to assess and maintain their health. This includes understanding key factors, such as the need to conserve biodiversity and critical habitats; the nature of sustainable management for important fisheries species, such as queen conch and spiny lobster; and the importance of ensuring that environmental management objectives take into account community livelihood goals. Students support the work of our clients and stakeholders, who range from local fishers to members of key government agencies.

Session II: Applied Marine Research Techniques

Students apply the scientific process in a field research project that addresses a local issue related to the management of tropical marine environments in TCI. Students learn how to develop a scientific approach to identify risks to the health of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove stands that surround the island. These risks include both local phenomena such as overfishing and increased coastal development, as well as global issues such as climate change and ocean acidification.

Summer Combined: Sessions I + II

Summer courses can be taken individually (4 credits) or back-to-back (8 credits). The combined summer program provides a thorough introduction to tropical marine ecology and environmental management, as well as field research techniques for addressing conservation questions. Students participating in both sessions receive a tuition discount.


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