Navigate Up
Sign In
Island Sustainability: French Polynesia

Study Abroad Program Overview

This UCEAP program takes place at the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station, located in Moorea, French Polynesia. The station is host to scientists and students from around the world and has a long history of providing educational and research opportunities.  The incorporation of the cultural and traditional aspects of the program is made possible through the unique partnership between UC Berkeley and the Tahitian community via the Atitia Center. This partnership is with a Tahitian community-based organization, the Association Te Pu 'Atiti'a, which is made up of local educators and tradition experts. The Atitia Center develops common educational and research programs focused on marine and terrestrial biodiversity, traditional knowledge, culture, and the relationship between human societies and natural ecosystems. Physically, the Center consists of an ethnobotanic garden, fare pote 'e (traditional Tahitian meeting house), interpretive center, and the waterfront of a marine reserve.

Students will be exposed to a variety of local and international NGOs working in the region and will benefit from the blend of European, American and Tahitian perspectives affecting all aspects of life and sustainability on the beautiful, tropical islands of French Polynesia.

About the geographic location: Moorea is a volcanic island in the South Pacific; part of the French Polynesia Archipelago. It is located 11 miles northwest of Tahiti. It is a rural island with several villages and towns. The island is surrounded by a well-developed coral reef and lagoon system. Moorea is one of the world's leading sites for coral reef research and the island is an ambitious but tractable scale for whole-system study. Its archipelago setting allows comparison with other Polynesian islands sharing common biocultural ancestry (monophyletic) but differing in key parameters that affect vulnerability and resilience. 

Course-related travel is by boat. Students will visit Tahiti several times during the course. All travel between islands (Moorea, Tahiti, Tetiaroa) will be by ferry. Other course-specific travel will be on lab boats to visit the reef and other study locations.

Five courses will be offered over 15 weeks (see the Courses and Credits tab above for descriptions). Students will be evaluated on course participation in discussions and field trips, a presentation, and a final exam (written). Topics covered throughout the course will be evaluated over the entirety of the term.

The Island Sustainability program in French Polynesia is appropriate for students in majors relating to environmental science/studies, ecology, biological science, or anthropology.

Students attend classes with UC students only.

Language of Instruction


Language Study



15 weeks
Spring :  
Early January to mid-April









Students in this UCEAP program will be housed in the Gump Station's waterfront accommodation which contains housing for 25 students, a large communal kitchen, dining area, laundry facilities and a small classroom. 
The station has fiber optic communications via undersea cable to Hawaii, HD videoconferencing in its main conference room and at the Atitia Center, and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout.
Dining services will be provided via a local caterer in the Gump Station’s cafeteria.

Extracurricular Activities

A visit to the atoll of Tetiaroa will provide an opportunity for students to explore the habitats of a low-lying atoll. Tetiaroa is relatively close to Moorea (2 hours by boat), and the Tetiaroa Society’s Ecostation provides dorms, internet access, wet and dry labs, and ample access to the atoll’s lagoon and terrestrial habitats. ​


On-site Support

UCEAP students are supported by UC’s network of UCEAP offices at every UC campus, the UCEAP Systemwide Office in Goleta, and the on-site faculty and staff of the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station in Moorea. 
See the link to the Gump Station User Guide for local information, travel to and from Tahiti, money and banking, immigration requirements, bringing or shipping equipment, and other relevant details.

Course Opportunities

​​You enroll in five, intense 3-week courses:

1. Island and Coral Reef Resilience and Ecosystem Services (week 1-3)
  • Introduces processes affecting island and reef function, and the human benefits derived from the resources created by these systems. Subject areas: Biology, Environmental Studies
2. Polynesian Culture and Society (weeks 4-6)
  • Explores how the first peoples of the islands understand and interact with their island homes, from a traditional to modern perspective, and with insights on human-environment interactions stemming from Gump Station’s long-standing archeological research program. Subject areas: Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Sociology
3. Issues in Biodiversity (weeks 7-9)
  • Examines habitat loss, invasive species and diseases (coral and plant diseases, and mosquito-borne public health threats such as zika and dengue), genetic diversity, and eco-informatics, as well as concerns related to bioprospecting and genetic resources under the Convention on Biological Diversity (Access and Benefit Sharing). Subject areas: Biology, Environmental Studies
4. Environmental Planning, Policy, and Management (weeks 10-12)
  • Investigates traditional and modern land and sea use strategies and approaches to sustainability, as well as new technologies that aim to secure food, energy, and water supplies (from marine and terrestrial sources, such as deep ocean water for air conditioning). Subject areas: Environmental Studies
5. Data Science, Communication, and Professionalism (weeks 13-15)
  • Teaches effective oral and written reporting to different communities and how to structure and organize international research programs. Students discuss the role of science in advocacy and innovation, learn about data science for environmental sustainability, explore applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Students carry out a project to create a proposal related to sustainable management. Subject areas: Communication, Environmental Studies
Use the following resources to learn about the courses offered:

  • View a preliminary syllabus for each course
  • MyEAP Course Catalog lists courses previously taken by UC students. (This is a new program and currently no courses are listed.)


You are required to take a full-time course of study while abroad: 22.5 quarter/15 semester UC units. You will enroll in five courses, 4.5 quarter/3 semester UC units each. The P/NP grading option is not available on this program. All courses transfer as upper division courses to your UC campus.

Internships, Research, and Independent Study

Internships, research, and independent study are not available for this program.

Participation in UCEAP is a great value! The cost of studying abroad on UCEAP programs is typically less than that of non-UC study abroad programs. The dollar figures listed in the chart below represent an estimate of: 1) the UCEAP fees for the current year, and 2) the additional amount needed to cover your living expenses in this location. Estimates for personal travel, entertainment and Non-Resident (out of state) Fees are not included.
Keep in mind that on UCEAP you take your financial aid with you. The amount of your financial aid package will take into account the total estimated costs of this experience. One advantage of selecting UCEAP for study abroad is that we facilitate the process by working with your UC Financial Aid Office (FAO), informing them of your UCEAP participation and providing them with your UCEAP budget. Just like your UC Campus billing office, we receive your financial aid and scholarships from your FAO, apply it to cover the UCEAP program fees, and disburse any remaining aid on a set schedule.

Estimated EAP Costs *

OptionWeeksUnits (Qtr)Units (Sem)UCEAP Fees 1Additional Costs 2
Spring15 - 1522.5 - 22.515 - 15TBDTBD
* Estimates do not include Miscellaneous Campus Fees or, if applicable, Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition, Graduate or Professional Fees. If you are subject to out-of-state tuition at your UC campus, you will pay Non-Resident Fees on UCEAP.

1 UCEAP Fees: This represents an estimate of UCEAP fees for the current year. Actual amounts will vary due to potential changes to UC fees, exchange rate fluctuation, etc. This figure includes UC tuition and fees for undergraduate, in-state residents. For a detailed breakdown of what’s included in this estimate, visit the Participants Portal and select the appropriate program. Non-Resident Fees apply: If you are subject to out-of-state tuition at your UC campus, you will pay non-resident fees on UCEAP.

2 Additional Costs: Average living expenses include but are not limited to room and board, transportation, books, supplies, and other incidentals and do not include recreational travel or entertainment. The total cost will vary depending on your personal expenses, exchange rate fluctuation, and the program you attend. For a detailed breakdown of the estimate, visit the “Cost” tab of the appropriate program.

All fees are subject to change without notice.

These expenses are estimated for 2017-18. Actual amounts will vary due to potential changes to UC fees, exchange rate fluctuation, etc. For a more detailed breakdown of 2017-18 payment information, visit the Participants Portal and select the appropriate program. Estimates do not include non-resident supplemental tuition. If you are subject to out-of-state tuition at your UC campus, you will pay non-resident fees on UCEAP.
Here’s what is included in the estimate:
  • Predeparture expenses (passport, student visa, health clearance, etc.)
  • Round-trip airfare
  • UC fees
  • Tuition at host institution
  • On-site orientation
  • Room and board
  • Selected program excursions and activities
  • Books and other incidental expenses (laundry, cell phone, etc.)
  • Local transportation
  • Automatic transfer of credits and grades to your UC transcript
While on UCEAP, you are covered by UC’s accident and medical insurance, including non-medical benefits, and 24/7 travel assistance anywhere in the world.​


UCEAP scholarships are available. Please visit our scholarships overview page for general information and details regarding eligibility requirements and application deadlines.​


Class Level:

Junior, Senior

Language Prerequisites:



2.85 cumulative GPA at the time of application and maintained through the end of the last term prior to departure.

Other Eligibility Requirements:

Please note: The location of this program is remote and dynamic. Activities can be strenuous physically and emotionally. These environments, along with the educational activities conducted and the living and traveling conditions encountered require each student to be fully committed to, and capable of working hard, taking responsibility for him or herself, and working effectively in the group to achieve the goals of the course. Good physical conditioning and a positive mental attitude are essential. Remote field study can create complex situations should an emergency arise, as it is common to be far from medical help. Communication and transportation may be difficult and evacuations and medical care may be significantly delayed. However, local instructors and staff are backed by robust emergency response and evacuation systems. Many of the medical incidents that might occur are simple and can often be treated in the field. For incidents that are serious, or when a student is evacuated for a medical reason, students will be taken to a medical facility for evaluation or treatment. Should unforeseen circumstances arise, such as weather, permit restrictions, unusual situations, risk management concerns, or if UCEAP deems it necessary, UCEAP reserves the right to make changes to course activities, curriculum and area locations.

Prior study in biology, ecology, or environmental studies is preferred.

All applicants must also have:

  • Serious academic goals and a clear plan for integrating EAP studies into the student's UC degree program.
  • Social, interpersonal, and cross-cultural sensitivity; maturity; willingness to adapt successfully to different living and academic environments; appropriate behavior in a variety of situations.
  • A willingness to abide by program regulations.
  • Completed all campus- and program-specific requirements and be in good academic and disciplinary standing.

Application Information and Deadlines

Important: If you are planning to participate in back to back study abroad programs (with UCEAP or any other organization), you must notify your campus study abroad office. There are important things to consider when participating in consecutive programs, such as program dates and visa requirements. Not all program combinations are possible.

Application deadlines and information on the application process are available through your Campus EAP Office. Supplemental pre-departure materials will be required for many programs, including, but not limited to, host institution applications, visa and housing applications, medical clearances, etc.

For participation in the program, you must meet all deadlines and submit complete application materials.

These are minimum requirements. Your Campus EAP Office determines selection and final admission.  

Visit your Campus Study Abroad website for program-specific deadlines: