International Study: Bahamas

Last taught Winter Intersession 2017 and is expected to be taught again during the Intersession of 2021.

Please contact Environmental Science and Policy Program Director, Jerry Burgess, for more information.

420.662.91 Coral Reefs and Caves: The Geology of the Bahamas

Course Description

This course will present an opportunity to study physical, chemical, and biological processes that operate to produce carbonate platforms (e.g., tides, waves, and the growth of corals), geomorphic processes that operate to further shape carbonate platforms (e.g., groundwater flow, cave development, and soil development), and the environmental impacts of human activities on carbonate platforms. The course consists of a week of intensive study online, followed by a week of field study at the Forfar Field Station on Andros Island in the Bahamas.

Prerequisite: 420.601 Geological Foundations for Environmental Sciences or permission of the instructor. Note: This course can count toward the residency requirement. It can also count toward concentrations in Ecological Management and Environmental Monitoring and Analysis.

Students being instructed for the day in the Bahamas


Registration for this course will open sometime in mid-September 2016 and will CLOSE about a month later. Students will register for this course in SIS. Payment is due at the time of registration. If a student decides to drop this course, $500 of the tuition is non-refundable, regardless of a student’s payment method choice (financial aid, employer assistance, tuition remission, etc.). Please note: this course does not follow the regular tuition refund schedule and all tuition and fees for this course are NON-REFUNDABLE after the course closes in October 2016, unless the minimum enrollment is not reached and the course is canceled. The course needs 6 people to register before it can run. Tuition refunds will be made if there are not enough people to run the course. The maximum number of students for the course is 10. Registration will be taken on a first come first serve basis with priority given to ESP and EPC degree candidates. If you have any questions please contact the course Point of Contact (POC) Jerry Burgess, Program Director of the Environmental Sciences and Policy,

Course Schedule (Subject to change)
Dec. 17, 2016 Materials will be available online. If students have not taken an online class in Blackboard they must take the online orientation. This extra week will facilitate getting through all of the material before we depart for Andros Island.
Dec. 23, 2016 – Dec. 30, 2016 Online portion of the course is officially open. Students will be required to complete one unit of material each day during this week. This includes one or more lectures and associated readings. Please plan to commit several hours per day to the course during this week.
Friday, Dec. 30, 2016
Saturday Dec. 31, 2016
Students travel to Nassau, Bahamas. Travel arrangements will be the responsibility of each student. Our flight to Andros will be in the mid-afternoon on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. If you can fly in and arrive by 12:00 p.m. on Saturday I’d recommend that. This should work for people flying in from the East Coast. If you can’t arrive by 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, you will need to fly in on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 Depart Nassau on charter flights to Andros Island, Bahamas. The field trip fee covers the cost of round-trip airfare to the Island.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 – Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 Field component of the course at the Forfar Field Station in the Bahamas, operated by International Field Studies. The field trip fee covers all lodging, meals, and use of equipment for course work. You will be required to pay for one dinner out during the week (average cost is less than $30) and any snacks that you want to buy.
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 Depart Andros Island for Nassau, Bahamas and return home. You can schedule return flights anytime after 10:00 a.m.


Kathryn A. Schubel, PhD

Dr. Schubel is co-owner of the Carlsbad Aquafarm, a sustainable shellfish farm located in Carlsbad California. Before moving south to Carlsbad, she was Project Manager and Curator of Content for major exhibits (Catch a Wave, The Gulf of California, and Ocean on the Edge: Top 10 Ocean Issues) at the Aquarium of the Pacific, located in Long Beach, California. She has taught a variety of Geoscience, Oceanography, and Ecology classes to graduate and undergraduate students at a number of different institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, over the last 17 years. She has led field courses to San Salvador and Andros Islands, Bahamas, and designed and led numerous field-based laboratory experiences in the United States. Dr. Schubel has researched deposition, and alteration of modern sediments and ancient rocks around the world. She received her B.A. in Geology from Oberlin College, M.A. in Geoscience from Binghamton University and Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.
Hands holding a starfish.


Excerpts from the International Field Studies website: Forfar Field Station is a rustic former dive resort nestled in a beachfront coconut grove on the east coast of Andros Island. The Forfar campus consists of a main lodge, two staff cabins, four guest cabins, and four “motel units.” Guest accommodations are dormitory style with bunk beds. Each cabin and motel unit has its own bathroom with hot water and electricity. Ceiling fan and lights are in each room and sheets, pillows, and blankets are provided. The main lodge at Forfar houses a laboratory, library, classroom, computer room, lounge, dining room, and kitchen. Open in the evening is a snack bar that sells souvenirs, T-shirts, drinks, and candy bars. There is a well-equipped laboratory and well-stocked library. Breakfast and dinner are served in the dining room and most lunches are eaten picnic-style at study sites. IFS ships most food in from Ft. Lauderdale. Menus are set, and usually offer a mix of standard American fare (lasagna, chicken) and a touch of Bahamian cuisine (pigeon peas and rice).

Andros is the largest island of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the fifth largest in all of the Caribbean. It is sparsely populated and has a densely forested inland. Andros does not offer the amenities expected by some visitors. Services such as phone, water, and electricity are still not available everywhere on the island but are available at the field station. There are no casinos, shows, malls, or fast food chains on the island. There are a few small stores where snack foods and meals can be purchased, but be sure to remember your camera, insect repellent, and bathing suit. Andros is a subtropical island with at least five distinct vegetation zones, a variety of reefs, many species of fish, birds, insects, and some reptiles. The geology of the island is distinctive, with fascinating blue holes and intriguing ooid shoals. The barrier reef runs the full length of the island. The Andros reef is the third-largest in the world, second only to Australia and Belize, and is considered by many to be the most diverse and pristine. The reef has both fringing and barrier characteristics and supports a colorful and amazing diversity of life. It offers a tremendous variety of 1-25 foot deep gardens abloom with both hard and soft corals, some of which emerge from the seas at low tide.

For more information about Forfar, please visit the International Field Studies website.


Students should budget the following estimated costs for the course:
$3,708 Tuition
$1,820 Field Station fee. This is the fee charged to JHU by International Field Studies. It includes round trip transportation from Nassau, Bahamas, lodging, meals, land and water transportation from Forfar field station to field study sites, and use of all field equipment.
$400 Estimated cost of roundtrip airfare from the Baltimore/Washington area to Nassau, Bahamas (based on rates posted online as of June 2, 2016). Booking this flight is the responsibility of the individual student.
$125 Estimated cost of one night’s lodging in Nassau, Bahamas. There are numbers of options available on Nassau. Each student is responsible for making their own reservations and paying for their hotel room. I would suggest sharing rooms for those who need to overnight in Nassau under $125.
$6,053 Total estimated cost for the entire course.

Student Emergency Contact Information

Students must update their emergency contact information in SIS by following these instructions:

  1. Log in to
  2. Hover over the “Personal Information” tab
  3. Select “Emergency Contact”
  4. Complete “Emergency Contact” information

Health and Travel Insurance

Well before departure, check with your doctor to see if you need any immunizations before traveling. Immunization information can also be found at the sites for the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization International Travel and Health.

Participants should make sure their health insurance and accident insurance covers them while traveling abroad. Additional coverage can be purchased through a variety of travel insurance options. To compare policies and for further information, visit the travel insurance comparison site at

HX Global, Inc.

Johns Hopkins is a member of HX Global, Inc., which covers JHU students while participating in international courses. HX Global, Inc. is medical and emergency evacuation assistance, it is NOT health insurance. Students are encouraged to review HX Global, Inc. benefits/information by going to MyJH, selecting Travel, then Travel Program. If you cannot access it through JHU’s website go directly to the HX Global website. First-time users will need to register and enter the Policy Number JH18492. Members can use the site to access medical and travel safety information.

For more travel information please visit the AAP Student Travel page.

Important Forms for the Field Study

Emergency Contact Information:

  • Bahamas Forfar Field Station — 242.368.6129
  • International Field Studies Ohio Office — 614.268.9930