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

  • Understanding of the key issues concerning the sustainability of island and coastal environments and cultures
  • Understanding the biological processes within marine ecosystems with particular knowledge of significant fish, reef and coral ecology
  • Understanding of local knowledge related to fish and fishing as well as understanding of the links between local culture and marine resource utilization
  • Understanding of the social dynamics related to marine ecology and island resource conservation and development (e.g. ethnic culture, tourism, commercial fishing, national park conservation)
  • Ability to successfully carry out the essential technical skills related to the studies of marine ecology, including sea kayaking and skin-diving
  • Geographical field survey methods, especially as related to marine ecology and island environments
  • Comparative field marine biology survey methods for coral reefs, mangroves and sea grasses
  • Social science research methods, including interviewing key stakeholders
  • Proficiency with the tools of field research and expedition skills such as using a GPS during kayaking and island survey



    Block 4

    Course Title

    Culture and Ecology of the Andaman: Islands, Reefs and Mangroves (ECODEV 403)


    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

    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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