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Learning through fieldwork on Pacific coral reefs

Learning through fieldwork on Pacific coral reefs

Stanford undergraduates study links between human and natural systems through an interdisciplinary seminar in Palau.
January 24, 2018

Image credit: Kurt Hickman

Mornings in Koror, the capital of the Republic of Palau, offer a striking scene, as the sun reflects off limestone karst formations that jut out of the sea floor and lush tree-covered mountains that fill the horizon.

At daybreak, 18 Stanford undergraduates participating in the Bing Overseas Studies Program seminar Ecology and Management of Coral Reefs of Palau load snorkel gear onto speedboats that take them through a network of channels to different coral reef sites between the country’s 340 islands. From low-oxygen basins and tourist-trampled reefs to shallow lagoons and extremely hot environments, Palau hosts an assortment of ecosystems seldom found in such close proximity.

CEE Professor Stephen Monismith is one of the lead instructors for this program. Classroom sessions and afternoon field trips offer an interdisciplinary training to prepare the students to independently plan and develop their research projects.

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