New Dal program to focus on oceans management

New BSc Ocean Science program first of its kind

Marlon Lewis, Dal’s Chair of Oceanography. Photo: Ford Shaw

Dalhousie University’s proposed ocean science program sailed through Senate approval last week. The bachelor of ocean science degree offered by the department of oceanography, the first full major of its kind in Canada, will cover the biological, chemical, physical and geological aspects of oceanography.

Marlon Lewis, chair of the department of oceanography says, “The aim is to prepare students for a scientific career in oceans science or management with a solid background in oceanography, marine policy and law.”

Enrolment in the ocean science program is capped at 25.  Students in the program either choose major or concentrated honours for their degree. The starting date is tentatively set for September 2013 but is contingent completing renovations for laboratory and classroom space. Tuition for the four-year degree is estimated at $3,897.65 per semester.

The oceanography department conducted its own study to evaluate students interest in a bachelors degree in ocean science; of the 633 science students surveyed 86.5 per cent responded they wanted to know more about the marine environment.  Twenty per cent (more than 100 students) in the sample group answered they would consider studies in ocean sciences if it were offered as a major.

Students in their first year of ocean sciences will take one full credit in humanities, communications for ocean sciences and physics.  Half-credit courses will consists of statistics and calculus, and one elective taken for two semesters chosen from, biology, chemistry, or geology.

Second-year students will begin courses specific to oceanography; honours students will start researching their thesis in addition to their course work. Third and fourth-year classes focus specifically on topics in ocean sciences such as, ocean chemistry, deep sea biology, marine modelling, physical oceanography as well as marine policy and law.

When Max Flinn, a Grade 12 student from Chester Nova Scotia, was informed of the new program he said, “I think it’d be great to be able to further my education in a field where I can really help others through the ocean and make a living doing it.”

When Krista Grunsky, a Grade 11 student from Citadel High in Halifax, was told of the new program, said she would consider applying to the new program. “I do enjoy studying more of the natural ocean-based stuff but the laws that surround it would be very interesting as well,” she says.

Faculty of Science regulations state first-year students applying to the ocean sciences program must complete Nova Scotia Physics 12 as well as Nova Scotia Mathematics 11 and 12 or in their equivalents.

The future for such graduates promises to be an interesting one.  Canada is working to define the outer limits of its continental shelf in both the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans and is collaborating with neighbouring states in the scientific, technical and legal work needed to do so.  Graduates with a BSc in Oceans Science will be trained to work in scientific and geopolitical areas of study necessary to perform this work.

This degree proposal goes on to the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Comission for a final review. The program is expected to be approved by February 2013 and receive full funding from the maritime provinces departments of education.  Students interested in applying to this program are urged to watch Dalhousie University for any official announcement or contact Dalhousie University Admissions.