Maritime Cultures of Northwest Washington

Spring 2018
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Michelle Aguilar-Wells
public administration, Native American studies, art
maritime literature, English literature

The relationship between the maritime cultures of northwest Washington and the marine environment evolves continuously. Through arts and literature as well as nonfiction narratives, we will study the histories, identities, economies and challenges of lives defined and dependent upon our regional inland waters, the Salish Sea.

We will visit and hear from several indigenous and non-indigenous maritime communities, people at the forefront of both the exploitation and the defense of the waters, and those who are often the first to feel the effects of the destruction of the marine habitat and resources.  Several half-day field trips will focus on observing local waters.  An all-day trip will provide cultural, historical and environmental background on the Nisqually River and the Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge and estuary, as well as an extended trail walk to observe the wildlife and the delta. An all-day field trip to Seattle will introduce two urban maritime communities at the Duwamish Longhouse and the Northwest Seaport on Lake Union.  Students taking the program for 16-credits will spend four days in the San Juan Islands crewing on the 133-foot schooner Adventuress, a 105-year-old historic vessel.  The mission of the Adventuress is to encourage stewardship of the marine environment through their sailing and education programs. All students will also spend two days with a local native community learning about and participating in cultural practices including a canoe trip.

In each visit and in our readings and writing at home we will explore how regional maritime communities understand their relationship and responsibility to the Salish Sea. We will explore our personal and collective connections and commitments to the Salish Sea and marine environments through an environment-centered art project, an individual research project, the study of native art and its environmental symbolism, and the study of various literary representations of the region and its maritime communities.  

Note: While the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday class schedule is highly compressed into the first half of the week, field trips are generally later in the week and even the weekend and extensive writing assignments will be due online during the non-class days.  We will have some additional field trips and scheduled class times.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: literary studies, Native American studies, environmental policy, and cultural studies

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.

16-credit option: $960 for entrance fees, art supplies, and an overnight field trip that includes three nights on the schooner Adventuress as well as time at Neah Bay and Cornet Bay Environmental Learning Center.

12-credit option: $195 for overnight field trips plus museum entrance fees and art supplies.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

Off-campus location:

During one week (TBA) of the quarter we will be traveling in NW Washington

Final schedule and room assignment:

2018-03-2012-credit section added. Students taking the 12-credit option will not participate in the field trip on the Adventuress.
2018-03-19This program now accepts enrollment for all class levels.