Human cultures and societies have been intimately connected with coastal environments since the dawn of humanity. Many of the great population centers in the world today are coastal and/or on the mouths of great rivers where they reach the sea. Coastal environments include beautiful sand beaches, rugged rocky coasts, mangrove estuaries and lagoons, fjords, deserts, and ice sheets. Management of coastal zones is one of the more pressing environmental issues of the day due to the problems of expanding marine aquaculture, population growth and habitat destruction, beach erosion, resource extraction, rising sea levels, and more. Problems of coastal zone management are complex involving scientific, economic, and political problem-solving approaches. Issues of social justice and sustainability intersect with challenges of evaluating ecosystem services or the causes and effects of climate change. Taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Semester at Sea travel itinerary, we will be able to observe a broad range of different coastal environments as well as their socio-economic and political contexts.
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