Hawaii, USA - Field Course: Systems Approaches to Regional Sustainability

ISCI 361/ISCI 461 | 3 credits

Applications now closed

Information Session Recording - hear from the teaching team and learn more about the program:

Passcode: ISCI361/461

About the Program

This course is led by Lee Groat, Denise Gabriel, Faculty of Science 

  • Dates: February 18, 2023 – February 25, 2023 (Students fly to Kona the evening of Feb 17, 2023)
  • Format: In person 
  • Locations visited: Hawaii 
  • Approximate program fees: $2500.00 - $3000.00 (plus tuition and flights)
  • Funding: All qualifying students will receive a $1,000 Go Global Award 
  • Application deadline: September 27, 2022
About the Course                                                                                                               

Contemporary scientists agree that solutions to complex global challenges such as environmental sustainability calls for “systems thinking”: the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. Systems thinking as an approach to problem‐solving argues that the component parts of a system can best be understood in the context of relationships with each other and with other systems, rather than in isolation. A scientific approach to examining the world that embraces systems thinking therefore demands that we consider landscapes, regions or whole continents as systems. In these systems, elements such as land, air, water, human societies, plants, and animals, interact in ways that influence the likelihood that the system will survive or perish.    

This 9‐day 3‐credit intensive course offers students an opportunity to visit and experience Hawaiian land, ecosystems and communities first hand, and to hear perspective from locals and local experts on contemporary and historic factors influencing (in this example) the Hawaiian system. Hawaii is an excellent venue because the impact of active volcanoes, invasive species, plastic pollution in the ocean, and climate change (via the climate observatory on Mauna Loa) can be observed at first hand. 

Students may participate in both this course and the Iceland Global Seminar. Students will receive credit for a separate course code.

Experience in the Field

This is an intensive courses and students will typically be active in the course from 8am to at least 6pm for the duration of the course. On most evenings’ instructors will provide an overview of the topic studied the following day.    

Eligibility Requirements
General Global Seminar requirements

To participate in a Global Seminar, students must: 

  • Be in good-standing in their faculty (I.e. not be under academic or non-academic discipline) 
  • Have full-time status in the year leading up to the Global Seminar 
  • Have completed 2nd year requirements before the start of the program (i.e. 3rd or 4th year standing) 
  • Have at least a 70% academic average in your last full-time academic session before applying 
  • Maintain a 70% academic average leading up to the program 
  • Meet any program specific requirements listed below including pre-requisites before participating 

Final selection will be done by the lead faculty program directors. Spots in the program may be limited. 

Students who wish to participate in the summer after graduating may be eligible on a case-by-case basis.

Program-specific requirements
  • Students from all faculties are able to apply.*
  • If competitive, Integrated Sciences students will get priority.
  • Assigned readings

While the course is suitable for third to fourth-year students from a variety of majors and science disciplines, preference will be given to students registered in Integrated Sciences.

Program Fees and Costs
Approximate program fees: $2500.00 - $3000.00

*The final fee depends on the number of students in the program. Students do not pay the Go Global fee when applying to a Global Seminar. The Go Global fee is built into the Program Fee and is payable upon acceptance to the program.  All Global Seminars only run if there is a minimum number of students enrolled.                                    

  • Accommodations
  • Program- related travel in-country; (e.g. buses)  
  • Excursions and entrance fees  
  • Some group meals  
  • On-site guest lectures

Not Included:  
  • Flights*  
  • UBC tuition for credits  
  • Visa/country entrance fees  
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Most meals  
  • Personal spending money/inidentals*  

*Some examples of incidentals are: personal mobile communication, personal transportation that is not related to the learning outcomes of the program, additional meals that are not already identified as part of the Program Fee, immunizations, Visas, etc.  

Travel to Hawaii is a separate cost.  You are responsible for arranging your own travel. You should not book your flight until you are notified to book.


Shared accommodation within a large house (3-4 students per room).

Application Deadline 

Tuesday September 27, 2022 (11:59pm PST)

How to Apply 

There are two required steps to apply for this program: Students apply through the Go Global Gateway and complete this participant questionnaire.

After the deadline, students’ applications will be reviewed by Go Global and the faculty program directors. You may be asked to participate in an interview as part of the selection process.

Global Seminars Refund Policy

To withdraw from your program, you must contact Go Global by email to request a withdrawal.  You will not be charged until you officially accept your spot in the program.  Refunds cannot be issued after the program fee is charged to your SSC account. 

In the case of withdrawal, Go Global Award funding must be returned in full.

If you have questions, please connect with your Go Global advisor or email Go Global at go.global@ubc.ca.

Student Safety Abroad and Pre-Departure Policy

UBC is committed to preparing students for safe and successful international experiences. In order to achieve this, any student participating in a Go Global Program must complete the following:

Failure to successfully complete these and any other requirements may result in withdrawal from the Go Global Program.

We encourage you to read the Global Affairs Canada travel report for your destination country before applying: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.

Global Seminars and COVID-19

Students and faculty are required to comply with the entry requirements of the host country, regulations of transportation carriers, and any local public health orders in the destination. These rules may require COVID-19 vaccination for entry or to participate in certain program activities, testing requirements, masking requirements, and/or isolation in case of infection. Alternatively, where isolation due to infection is not required by local health authorities and students are sharing accommodations isolation may be a challenge. We encourage you to review local requirements before applying and before departure. Check out the Global Affairs Canada Advisory (https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories) under Entry Requirements for your Global Seminar destination to learn more.  Keep in mind that program conditions can vary and these rules can change before or during your trip.

Once it becomes closer to the departure date, the group will be informed of all updated local requirements and COVID-19 safety plans for the Global Seminar.


If you are considering applying for a Go Global program and identify with having a disability or pre-existing health condition (mental or physical) which could impact your participation, or if you require academic accommodations, you can contact the following offices and meet with an Accessibility Advisor before the start of the program:

Contact Go Global
In-person and Virtual Drop-in advising hours
  • Tuesday: 1:00 - 3:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 1:00 - 3:00 pm

Go Global offers both in-person and virtual drop-in advising through Zoom during the times listed above.

Please use Go Global's new Ask Us Webform and we will respond to your inquiry.