Political Geography of the Oceans

Discipline: Politics and International Relations
Instructor: Smith
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 14:30
End: 15:45
Field Work: Day 1 | England Download Syllabus

This course examines the governance of the world’s oceans. National interests over the control of ocean space differ from country to country and in some situations these differences have led to conflict. The lectures focus on means by which countries have claimed sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction off their coasts. The spatial impact these actions have on other maritime users will be analyzed with an emphasis on U.S. ocean policy and practice. The division of ocean space is analyzed from both a geographical and functional perspective. Geographically, each major type of maritime zone is discussed: baselines (which distinguish internal waters from the territorial sea), the territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, and high seas. Functionally, primary ocean uses are examined, including fisheries, oil and gas development, deep seabed mining, navigation (commercial and military), and over flight. Special topics such marine scientific research, the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and marine environmental issues are addressed. Attention will be given to this semester’s trip itinerary when discussing the course topics. The understanding and use of nautical charts as they pertain to national maritime claims and boundaries will be examined. And, it will be shown why in this day of satellite imagery and computers that charts may not always give the best answers. During the course, the students will have “hands on” opportunities to put into action several class topics, including baselines and maritime boundaries. Late in the course, following the lectures on maritime zones and the principles of maritime boundaries, the class will be divided into negotiating teams. A scenario will be given to both sides, defining their country’s interests, where the offshore resources are located, and other pertinent facts. After caucusing as a team, and developing their maritime boundary negotiating strategy, the teams will engage in “negotiating” a boundary with its neighbor bringing to the table knowledge learned in this course.

Field Work

Country: England
Day: 1

The class will visit the National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) one of the world’s premier Oceanographic research centres.  The students will arrive at about 0930 and will receive a general briefing on the Centre’s beginnings and overall mission.  This brief will be followed by a visit to the Research vessels Callista and will include some hands-on activities.  The morning will continue with a visit to the NOC Research Aquarium, the British Ocean Sediment Core Research Facility (BOSCORF), and the Deep See Research Vehicle Hanger.  These visits will be followed by two 20 minute talks by scientists who are involved with marine scientific research.  The tour and briefings will end with lunch at the NOC mess (at own expense).  Following lunch the group will either walk back to the ship or be taken back by van, depending on the location of the MV Explorer.