People and the Sea (Human Wellbeing)


People and the Sea (Human Wellbeing)

Oceans cover 71% of our planet’s surface and make up 95% of all the space available to life (WWF). People and the Sea is a course designed to make you think and learn more about the importance of the oceans to different peoples across the globe, and to do so in ways you may not have done before

Course outline

Why is this important?

Humankind depends on the oceans and coasts and their resources for its survival. These ecosystems, covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, are among the most productive on the planet, but they are also amongst the most threatened. Climate change, rising sea-surface temperatures and rising sea levels are endangering the long-term security of people living in low-lying coastal areas and significantly altering the occurrence of resources, such as freshwater, on which all of us rely. At the same time, over-exploitation of the global fishery is jeopardizing the food security and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people and pollution from agricultural, industrial and urban sources is creating ocean dead zones the world over. People at all levels in society can help to reverse these trends and improve societal well-being. But how much do you know?​

What you will be doing?

Through seminars, workshops and group work we will be celebrating the relationship between people and the sea, whilst also developing an understanding of the threats to the oceans arising from our presence.
Representing countries from across the world, students will prepare for and take part in a mock UN summit about the world’s oceans. Film screenings, activist training, and a yacht made from recycled ocean debris will all feature before students finalise their negotiating positions.
Students will also learn about film making, cross-cultural negotiation, how to design effective poster displays, approaching and communicating with the media and political lobbying skills. This year we hope to be hosting a panel discussion on political and environment activism where you will have a chance to ask questions to those out there already changing our world, and all this before joining your fellow global citizens from across the streams for a final exhibition and party.

Get involved - #peopleandthesea

Timetable and outputs


You can expect to spend 4-6 hours in sessions during the Programme, made up of lectures, tutorial sessions, skills workshops and project work. There will be optional evening sessions featuring guest speakers - in 2013 we heard from the crew of the Plastiki, for instance. Lectures include:

  • Sea Change: Governing our fishing stocks
  • 3D Scanning Arctic Ice Floes
  • Technology at Sea

Outputs for this course are:

  • Set of 4 posters per group for exhibition at the end of the Programme
  • Negotiating position for UN-style conference
  • Representing your country group at the conference

Students are also encouraged to create a 6-second film on a topic covered during the course - this is an individual competition. Here are some of last year's entries:

More information

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Course leader


Dr Caroline Garaway

The UCL Global Citizenship Programme is a great opportunity for students to work on something different from their degree. Our UN-style summit is great for students to improve public speaking and negotiation skills.

Last year's students really enjoyed the course, and I'm looking forward to guiding a new cohort around the varied coastline of People and the Sea in 2015.

Dr Garaway is a lecturer in UCL Anthropology. You can learn more about her here.