Program Overview

Culture and Ecology of the Andaman Course

This course focuses on coral reefs, mangroves, and the coastal communities and islands of the Andaman Sea, Southern Thailand.

This course examines one of the most critical resources for sustainable development: the ocean. The course focuses on reef ecosystems, mangroves, seagrasses, and the human communities that depend on them for their survival. Both the physical and cultural environments are challenging—over a week of travel will be by sea kayak, and half of the course will be in a small Southern Thai fishing village.

By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of the major issues surrounding coastal ecology and culture, with experience in and understanding of coral reefs, mangroves, sea grasses and tidal areas; as well as understand the unique challenges and struggles of the human communities that live in the coastal zone — the semi-nomadic Urak Lawoi and Southern Thai Muslim fisherfolk. These cases represent a complex situation of multiple and often conflicting resource uses in the coastal ecosystem and rapidly changing ways of life for the coastal and island people.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the key issues and challenges to ocean and costal ecosystems
  • Have specific knowledge about field research and experiential studies of reefs, seagrasses and mangroves
  • Understand the sociopolitical dynamics of resource management in Southern Thailand
  • Understand the ecological context and constraints on fishing and resource use in Southern Thailand
  • Be competent in both biological and social field research methods
  • Understand the struggles of marginalized communities in Southern Thailand that depend on the oceans for their livelihood
  • Be able to articulate the key challenges facing coastal and island communities in Southeast Asia and how it applies to global issues and climate change


    Block 4

    Course Title

    Culture and Ecology of the Andaman: Islands, Reefs and Mangroves (ECO/GEO 330)


    4 Credits

    Academic Fields



    Extensive studies of reef and coral ecology

    Field research in mangrove and seagrass areas

    Snorkeling and skin-diving

    Sea kayaking

    Island and ocean navigation

    Interviews and discussions with local stakeholders


    Sea kayaking between islands in the archipelago

    Long tail boat between study sites


    Adang Archipelago in Satun Province

    Coastal villages in Trang Province

    Application Deadlines

    Semester Application Deadlines: Fall – March 15 / Spring – October 15

    Summer Application Deadline: April 1

    After the deadline we will accept students on a space available basis, so contact us at [email protected]

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