Climate Change and Sustainability in the Fiji Islands

Summer 2014 quarter (Session II)

Taught by

international development, environmental studies, communications

Please note: This course requires a $500 nonrefundable deposit - it must be paid as close as possible to May 1, 2014 - please contact Brittany Gallagher at if you are interested in this class even if it is after May 1.

The Republic of Fiji is a collection of 322 islands in the South Pacific Ocean, home to about 858,000 people.  Although Fijians have done little to exacerbate the problem of global climate change, they and their neighbors in the South Pacific are among the first people on the planet to experience its effects.  Issues Islanders currently face include coral bleaching, threats to mangroves and other nearshore ecosystems, rising sea levels, and declining terrestrial biodiversity, including the loss of important endemic species.

MES students traveling to Fiji will observe firsthand how the Fijian government, NGOs, and everyday people address the effects of climate change; from adaptation activities at a local level to lobbying the international community through regional partnerships with other Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The social, cultural, and political dimensions of these complex environmental issues will be explored through visits to coastal and inland villages, government offices, NGOs, and the University of the South Pacific (USP).  Students will visit major environmental sites on Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, including two national parks and other private reserves.  Guest speakers from USP and various governmental and non-governmental organizations will visit or host our group in their offices to speak about island biodiversity, geography, political economy, and community development. 

Religion in Fiji is an important and complex beast: students will have the opportunity to visit the most famous Hindu temple in the country, attend village church services, and learn about Islam in Fiji.  We will spend several days at an “eco-resort” in the Mamanuca islands, snorkeling on healthy and degraded reefs and engaging in mangrove conservation activities.  Students will also spend several nights in rural villages for an immersive experience alongside Fijians and expatriates working on community development initiatives. 

Academic credit will be awarded in Pacific Island Sustainability for either two or four credits. Four credits will be awarded for those participating in the trip, keeping a detailed field journal, writing a summary of the experience, and researching and writing a paper on a topic of island sustainability. Two credits will be awarded for participating in the field trip, maintaining a field journal, and writing a summary of the experience. All students are required to write a self-evaluation for the instructor.

Students are encouraged to contact the instructor by emailing well prior to May 1 to express interest in the course, arrange travel, and indicate topic areas of interest to be explored during the trip.

More practical information will be shared during three pre-trip on-campus meetings, to be arranged at the convenience of the student cohort.

Faculty Biography:

Brittany Gallagher, MES , has a background in international development and sustainability. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and former Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar.  She lived in Suva, Fiji while earning a graduate certificate at the University of the South Pacific, where she studied geography and biodiversity protection.  Her research at USP focused on the intersections of religion and ecology in the region and the associated mix of social and environmental policy and local and national levels. At Evergreen, where she earned her MES degree, she was a graduate research associate who coordinated education programs for the Sustainability in Prisons Project and she focused her thesis research on the effects of science and sustainability education on prison inmates.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day, Evening and Weekend

Advertised schedule: Sun, Aug 3 - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 (18 days including travel/16 days in Fiji)


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

Total approximate cost is $3,150 (in addition to tuition). This includes a $1,500 program fee ($500 deposit due May 1) and these additional expenses: Round-trip airfare to Nadi, Fiji (NAN) from LAX and from home airport to LAX - LAX-NAN airfare is approximately $1100 (Advised to do this before late-May), most meals - approximately $300 per person, insurance - approximately $150 per person, some local travel, spending money, gifts for hosts. The $1,500 program fee is paid in three parts: May 1: $500 non-refundable deposit due; June 1: $500 due; July 1: Final $500 due. This deposit and all payments may be paid through CashNET on > Make a Web Payment, then choose "Study Abroad" > "Study Abroad Fiji w/ B.Gallagher".

Study Abroad

Previous international travel experience is not necessary, but students must be patient, flexible, and prepared for plans to change on short notice.  Students must have a passport valid through March 2015 and should know how to swim. 

Undergraduate Credit Option

Requires Faculty Approval

Registration Information

Credits: 2, 4 (Summer)

Class standing: Junior–Graduate

Maximum enrollment: 12


Course Reference Numbers

Second Session (4 GR credits): 40029
Second Session (2 GR credits): 40161

Go to to register for this program.

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