stratus rock formations on Hawaiian coast with bright blue water

Hawaii - Systems approaches to regional sustainability

ISCI 361 | 3 credits

DEADLINE EXTENDED - Apply by November 15, 2019

  1. Log in to the Gateway online application program
  2. Select “Search Experiences” and type "GSP" to explore Global Seminars programs
  3. Upload the application form for your selected Global Seminar – see Application documents below

Please note that you can apply for up to a maximum of 2 Global Seminars.

Students are encouraged to meet with the Program Director at an orientation session or one-on-one to learn more about the program.


About the course

This course is led by UBC faculty member Lee Groat.

As argued in ISCI 360, to understand sustainability, we also need to understand unsustainability. We have deliberately adopted systems thinking as the approach for ISCI 361, using the logic that any region of the world needs to be understood as an integrated system before we can understand what will happen when that system is perturbed. 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.

In 2019W term 2 ISCI 361 will visit and examine the Big Island, Hawaii as a case study region. 

We will spend reading week in Hawaii (Feb 15-22, 2020), visiting a number of academic centres, national parks, and sites of interest. We will consider input from multiple scientific (and some social science) disciplines to answer a range of questions about the Hawaiian system and its sustainability. How does the underlying geology of the Big Island affect its water systems and agriculture? What advantage do different sources of energy offer this small island? To what degree are these energy systems - sustainable? How do the climate and geology of the Big Island affect its ecosystems and agriculture? What special advantages and challenges are unique to this area of the earth system?

Students will be expected to complete required readings before reading week. There will be a quiz based on the readings the first morning in Hawaii, and a quiz based on the field part of the course on the last morning. The final project is a logbook due approximately one month after the field part of the course. In the logbook, which is a collection of 10 short essays, students will pursue selected Hawaiian sustainability topics of their own choice.

About the experience

A typical day might include site visits to explore topics related to:

  • volcanism, active lava flows, green sand beaches, black sand beaches,
  • sea turtles, whales, looking at the effects of tsunamis
  • snorkeling and reef geology
  • tropical ecosystem in Polulu Valley, Mauna Kea observatories
  • Climate observatory on Mauna Loa
  • Vog, energy - geothermal, solar, wind farms, organic farming

Lots of walking, hiking, time outdoors. 


We will be staying in a house on a large property on the Hilo side of the Island.

General timeline

The program will take place in Big Island, Hawaii in February. Prior to this, you will be required to attend pre-departure sessions in Vancouver.  

Program dates: Feb 15-22, 2020


Program specific requirements:

This course is open to students with third-year or higher standing in the Faculty of Science.


  • 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.

Global Seminars - general eligibility

You must have at least a 70% average in your most recent Winter Session of full-time studies prior to application

You need to be a UBC student in good standing (e.g. not be under academic or non-academic discipline) to participate in a Global Seminar

You should have full-time student status (as defined by your faculty) in the year prior to your Global Seminar

You must maintain 70% average prior to your Global Seminar departure

You must have completed or intend to complete the necessary (or equivalent) pre-requisite courses prior to Global Seminar start date

Unclassified students will be considered on a case-by-case basis

You will need to be accepted by the Program Director leading the Global Seminar

Program fees and costs

CAD $1,250 - $1,500 + tuition and flight

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 qualifying students will receive a $1,000 Go Global Award.

Program fee includes Program fee DOES NOT include
Accommodation Tuition*
Program-related travel Flight*
Program-related excursions Incidentals*
Meals *depending on program
Go Global fee ($415.00)

*UBC Tuition - Not included. Part of your costs

This amount will differ for domestic and international students. This amount will be assigned to you on the Student Service Centre (SSC) according to normal UBC tuition timelines. Read about tuition fees.

This amount is not determined or applied by Go Global.

All students participating in a Global Seminar will have tuition applied to their SSC account.

*Flights - Not Included. Part of your costs

Travel to your destination is a separate cost. You are responsible for arranging your own travel. You should not book your flight until you are notified to book. All Global Seminars only run if there is a minimum number of students enrolled.

*Incidentals - Not Included. Part of your costs

Some examples include 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.

Please contact a Global Seminar Advisor if you have questions about the program fee. Connecting early with an Enrolment Service Advisor will also be helpful in order to plan for your trip.

Global Seminars refund policy

Adjustment on deposits

Students are eligible for an adjustment of their deposit under the following circumstances:

Withdrawal after you accept your spot in the program

  • You are eligible to have your Global Seminar deposit adjusted from $750 to $93.25 (ie: you receive a $656.75 credit)

Withdrawal after deposit posted on SSC

  • You are eligible to have your Global Seminar deposit adjusted from $750 to $321.75 (ie: you receive a $428.25 credit)

Withdrawal after deposit due date

  • The deposit and all remaining program fees are completely non-refundable. Exceptions may be determined at the discretion of Go Global. 

Any funds allocated to students through the ARA program must be returned in their entirety.

Students who decide to withdraw their application must submit a request in writing by email to the Global Seminar Advisor at


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:

The Centre for Accessibility (Vancouver) 604 822-5844

Disability Resource Centre (Okanagan) 250 807-8053

Pre-departure Policy

Safety Abroad

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:

  • All UBC Student Safety Abroad requirements
  • Go Global Program-specific pre-departure requirements (includes both online and in-person components)

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


Global Seminars Advisor

Student Advising

Drop in advising - Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00-3:00pm

Please email with your student number in the subject line.

Global Seminars Advisor

Telephone: 604 822 0942

Fax: 604 822 9885

UBC Life Building
6138 Student Union Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1


9:00 am - 4:15 pm
9:00 am - 4:15 pm
9:00 am - 4:15 pm
9:00 am - 4:15 pm
9:00 am - 4:15 pm