International Education

Ecology and Natural History of Hawaiian Coral Reefs, 2015

2014: This program is not running in 2014. Please check in fall 2014 for summer 2015 details.

Approved for summer 2013; permanent status pending.

Over the past 200 years the study of island archipelagoes has contributed to the elucidation of many evolutionary and ecological processes. Today, due to past and present human impacts, many island species, communities, and ecosystems are threatened with extinction. This course is an exploration of the ecology of marine ecosystems in the Hawaiian islands. Using ecology, evolution and conservation biology as organizing themes this course will cover the structure of coral reef communities and ecosystems then focus on the unique characteristics of these ecosystems that make them vulnerable to disturbance. Through field experiences, lectures by faculty, and class discussions students in this class will investigate the dynamic interactions between marine organisms in relation to biotic and abiotic environments, the life histories of marine organisms and interrelationships within coral reef communities, the role of coral reef communities in marine ecosystems, and conservation issues relevant to coral reef ecosystems in Hawaii. This course will also cover methods of description and analysis of ecological communities. Students will examine one topic of particular interest in depth, through independent research projects.

The course will be conducted over a three week period including one week for on-campus instruction and two weeks carrying out field studies in Hawaii (Big Island). The methods of instruction will include a mix of faculty lectures, field excursions and class discussion. Short lectures will be given by faculty to introduce key concepts. In addition to lectures, we will use a discussion-based format during some class periods to explore the assigned readings. Students will also conduct observational research during frequent field excursions to reef ecosystems. Students will conduct and analyze data from both instructor-designed and independent research projects.

Completed applications must be received at the Office of International Education by 4 p.m. on November 30, 2012. Students must use the common study abroad application to apply.  Completed application includes the following materials: common application, study abroad statement, transcript request form, faculty recommendation, personal recommendation, and advisor form.

WU Credit: Earn 1.0 WU Biology credit (BIOL 254) and satisfies the Understanding the Natural World MOI requirement.  Prerequisite:  BIOL 125 or consent of instructor (if taken to fulfill ecology requirement for biology majors); None if taken to fulfill the Natural World MOI.

  • 2013 Instructors: TBD
  • 2013 Program Cost: Based on a minimum of 12 participants, approximately $3,600 (includes tuition, room and most meals, excursions, and onsite support). Airfare to and from Hawaii IS NOT included in the program cost.   Students should plan to bring approximately $350 to cover meals not included in the program.  Textbooks are also NOT included in the program cost.  Students will be directed about textbooks to buy after selection in the program.
  • 2013 Special notes:  This program will begin with an on-campus component and then will move to Hawaii.  Students selected MUST be able to travel to Hawaii within a prescribed window of time on a certain day.  Students selected will be given specific instructions on when to arrive (date and time of day), so please do not book tickets until AFTER the first orientation in spring 2013.


  • TBD-Please check this site in fall 2014.
  • Contact Professors David Craig or email (WU Office of International Education) with questions or for more information

Application DEADLINE is November 30, 2012 at 4 p.m.  Students must use the common study abroad application (including the supplementary materials: study abroad statement, transcript request form, faculty recommendation, personal recommendation, and advisor form) to apply.  Applications must be submitted to Willamette University, Office of International Education, 900 State Street, Salem, OR 97301.