Coastal & Ocean Studies (CAOS)

Coastal & Ocean Studies (CAOS): Path to the Concentration

Understanding the oceans, the coasts, and our interactions with both is critical in this era of climate change, sea-level rise, fisheries crises, and the internationalization of the high seas. The oceans control the planet’s weather, they supply about 20% of the world’s food, and ocean-going cargo ships carry 90% of international trade goods.  More than a third of the global population lives within some tens of kilometers of the coast, and about 10% of the world’s people could be directly impacted by sea level rise in the coming decades. Williams run the Williams-Mystic Program, one of the nation’s few interdisciplinary semesters investigating the multifaceted ocean and coastal system via the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences; and Coastal and Ocean Studies (CaOS) provides an on-campus structure for students to weave the Williams-Mystic curriculum into an interdisciplinary concentration.

Candidates for the concentration in Coastal and Ocean Studies must complete a minimum of seven courses:  the four Williams-Mystic courses (which cover history, literature, science, and policy of the coasts and oceans); an oceanography course, an elective, and a 400-level Senior Seminar. The Williams-Mystic courses require a semester away at the Williams-Mystic Program, and the remainder of the concentration is completed on campus.

Students who have completed other study-away programs that emphasize marine studies should consult with the program chair about the possibility of completing the Coastal and Ocean Studies concentration. More information can be found on the Coastal and Ocean Studies web page, and the CaOS curriculum is summarised on this information sheet.

See full program description for Coastal & Ocean Studies (CAOS):