Marine Ecology: Studying and Safeguarding Our Most Vulnerable Ecosystems

Course Description

This exciting course, developed in partnership with the MarineLab, allows you to dive into the beautiful marine ecosystems of the Florida Keys and learn leadership skills you can use to make positive change in your own communities. With lessons led by marine biologists, the course will take you through the abiotic and biotic components of the primary habitats of the Florida Keys waters (seagrasses, mangroves, and coral reefs), the interconnection of these habitats, and the impacts (both positive and negative) that humans have on this fragile ecosystem (e.g. marine debris, marine protected areas). During leadership lessons, you will learn more about your own leadership styles and build communication and active listening skills.

Home to thousands of species, the waters of the Florida Keys lend themselves to interesting ecological studies. Lessons for this course will come in many different formats, including plenty of on water and underwater footage taken by the biologist instructors. The fact that the instructors for this course have access to the habitats they are teaching about will allow for truly unique lessons. Recorded instructor presentations will be captured in the field or in the lab and will often include live specimens.

Pairing this close look at marine ecosystems with leadership development workshops, you will be able to engage in marine conservation work in your own communities--whether you live near a body of water or not. All of the course lessons, workshops, and assignments culminate with a final presentation. You will identify a pressing issue that you are passionate about and, with support from instructors and peers, will create an Action Plan to apply your new leadership knowledge to this issue in your home community. We encourage you to think about potential Action Plan topics before you come to this course, but most develop ideas during the course with help of peers and in-class activities. All students are provided with a detailed Action Plan Workbook to turn their great ideas into solid, achievable, meaningful plans.

During this course, you will learn to:

  • Identify and strengthen leadership qualities that may lead to improved collaboration and problem solving.
  • Clearly communicate concepts in environmental studies and/or environmental justice to a variety of stakeholders or individuals.
  • Acknowledge, understand and gain tools to process the large spectrum of impacts caused by global climate change.
  • Develop effective, feasible, and impactful Action Plan projects that use lessons from this course to create positive change in their local communities.
  • Identify unique ecological aspects of the Florida Keys marine ecosystem.
  • Explain the interconnection of environmental and living components within a habitat as well as the ecological connection of various habitats within the Florida Keys marine ecosystem.
  • Propose ecologically feasible efforts to mitigate negative human impacts on subtropical marine ecosystems.


No specific prior experience or knowledge is required, however students should be excited to pursue Action Plan development and to explore how they can apply environmental leadership in their own communities.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: July 18, 2022 - August 05, 2022
Duration: 3 Weeks
Meeting Times: Online - Mostly Asynchronous
Status: Closed
Format: Online
Instructor(s): Sarah Egner
Charles Fisher
Course Number: 10125