Cook Islands Class & Trip Overview
From Late July through early August, 2015 undergraduates from California State Univeristy Channel Islands (in Ventura County, California) will travel to the South Pacific island nation of the Cook Islands for an intensive, two-week long exploration of the culture, ecosystems, and management of these islands. We will travel from Los Angeles to Rarotonga (the Capitol of the Cook Islands) on a commercial passenger jet and soon on to the nearby island of Aitutaki via a smaller, short-haul plane. Once on Aitutaki, we will begin and initial assessment of the land- and seascapes of Aitutaki to better understand the condition of this island at present day and lay the groundwork for what we hope will be a longterm collaboration with the people and places of the Cooks. Recognizing that our time in the Cooks is limited we will generally be up early and to bed late. Our days will emphasize practical exploration of coastal resources and culture, often on/in the water or “off trail.” Some of our activities will be designed to support to our local partners and colleagues and their management goals (i.e. Service Learning) while others will be designed to simply help our students better understand the extant conditions and traditional cultural management on Aitutaki and across the greater Cooks.
focal areas we will explore on Aitutaki
- Patch Reefs in the main Lagoon
- Shallow Reef flats within the Lagoon
- Sandy Beaches
- Extant Vegetation
General Learning Outcomes
By completion of this course, students should by able to clearly describe:
- a basic understanding of the cultural, biographical, and historical underpinnings of modern South Pacific Small Island Nations.
- current issues most relevant to Cook Islanders.
- the effects of the recent diaspora on both Cook Islands society and coastal resources.
- the benefits and downsides of a tourism-based economy in Aitutaki.
- the current state of reef-based resources in Aitutaki Lagoon.
- the specific challenges climate change is posing to Aitutaki.
- the interrelatedness of our global culture, economy, and society.
- specific potential management options for improving or maintaining Cook Island resources.