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Center for

Environment & Society

Puget Sound Summer Program

Society, Environment, and the Sea: Reading the Currents of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands

Special Topics 4-credit course cross-listed with Anthropology and Environmental Studies

Program Dates 2015: 
August 3-August 17, 2015

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The Partnership


Coastal Heritage Alliance (CHA) is a non-profit dedicated to preserving the fishing heritage in America. CHA works directly fishing families to maintain their working fleets, share stories, develop cultural interpretation as well as with the broader public to inform them of a rich American tradition.  With two branches anchored in the maritime centers of the Chesapeake Bay and the Puget Sound, CHA brings a wealth of resources to Washington College students interested in maritime culture and resource sustainability. Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society and Anthropology Department are excited to build upon the experiential platform of the Chesapeake Semester and partner with CHA to take W.C. students to uncharted waters away from campus…

 The Program


This course will take six Washington College students to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands to explore the interaction of humans and the natural environment in both the historical and contemporary context.  Students will live and learn aboard the Commencement, a retired 65-foot salmon purse-seiner built in 1926 that has been fully restored and converted to an educational vessel.   Students will become well versed basic theoretical tenets of natural resource management and environmental and cultural conservation.  Students will then have the opportunity to see how these theories apply to real world case studies as they travel the Puget Sound and meet with practitioners involved in resource management issues such as: 1.) the salmon fishery 2.) the timber industry 3.) water quality and transoceanic shipping, and finally 4.) environmental and social threats to coastal communities. 

In addition to the rigorous academic and experiential components of this trip, students will be tasked with living and working together onboard their floating classroom, the Commencement.  Washington College students will be accompanied by three crew members and tasked with daily shipboard duties that will be essential for ensuring the safety and comfort of everyone onboard.




1.) To introduce students to the key
theoretical tenets of natural and cultural resource management.

2.) To provide an opportunity for students to see how these theories are applied in a real world context in the Puget Sound region.

3.) To provide a rich “at-sea” experience for students and teach them important maritime skills.


Course Credit


Special Topics: “Society, Environment, and the Sea: Reading the Currents of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands” is a 4 credit elective cross-listed with Anthropology and Environmental Studies.


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Fees, Travel, and Equipment

Faculty and Staff