Course Description

420.624 - Ocean Stewardship and Sustainability

Our oceans represent the final frontier of human exploration and discovery on Earth. Indeed, we have a greater understanding of the moon's surface than we do of the depths below the ocean’s surface. Although oceans are home to an extraordinary amount of biodiversity, over 95% of the ocean remains unexplored and over 90% of species have yet to be classified.

What we do know, however, is that our oceans are under significant threat for human activities and a growing global population. Overfishing, plastic pollution, ocean warming and acidification threaten to undermine the ability of the ocean to sustain global systems that are critical for sustaining life on Earth. Indeed, the ocean produces half the planet’s oxygen, absorbs a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions, feeds 3 billion people, and contributes $3 trillion per year to the global economy.

This course will examine how to protect our oceans, in order to reduce pollution, restore and protect marine and coastal ecosystems, minimize ocean acidification, end overfishing and illegal harvesting, revitalize fish stocks, advance sustainable fishing practices, preserve endangered species, strengthen the rule of domestic and international law, promote innovation in ocean governance, and increase scientific knowledge, research and technology that supports ocean health.

This course provides a holistic and systems-based view of how the ocean functions, human interactions with those functions and innovative policies and sustainable solutions to environmental problems stemming from those interactions.