Sep 25, 2022  
2020-2021 Catalog 
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Salish Sea Studies Minor

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Salish Sea Studies, University Interdisciplinary Programs

22 credits


The multidisciplinary Salish Sea Studies curriculum introduces students to human-environment systems in the Salish Sea ecoregion. The Salish Sea includes the Georgia Basin, Puget Sound, the San Juan and Gulf Islands archipelago, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca which straddles the U.S./Canada border. As an international body of water, the Salish Sea is governed by many entities. The name of this transboundary sea reflects the long history of the Coast Salish peoples who have lived on the shores of the Salish Sea since time immemorial. Now approximately eight million people share this landscape with orcas, salmon, and hundreds of other species. Many species are threatened and endangered due to human impacts on the bioregion. Students enrolled in Salish Sea Studies will learn about the ecological and political complexities of this region. This course offers a unique opportunity to understand transboundary governance and tribal sovereignty, watershed science, art and storytelling, and more.

Why Consider a Salish Sea Studies Minor?

Salish Sea Studies offers a place-based complement to other majors and minors, including environmental science and policy, marine sciences, international business, anthropology, history, political science, communications, and education. The program is carefully designed to draw on the breadth and depth of expertise across Western, with courses from nearly every college represented. Our curriculum emphasizes appreciation of the contributions of many ways of knowing across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students are given opportunities for field-based experiential learning and personal reflection as they develop a sense of place in the region where they’re living and studying while at Western.

 Contact Information

Associate Director of Transboundary Initiatives
Dr. Natalie Baloy

 Sample Careers

Developing a deep knowledge of the Salish Sea from environmental, cultural, and historical perspectives will prepare students to work collaboratively across multiple jurisdictions, sectors, and perspectives in a range of professions, including in public service and government, industry, and nonprofit organizations. The program also provides a strong foundation for pursuing graduate work regionally and beyond by developing a keen understanding of the complexities of their undergraduate bioregion.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time training new employees on the complex cultural, environmental, social and economic systems of the Puget Sound. Job applicants would have a real competitive advantage if they came to us with the kind of knowledge and insight provided by WWU’s Salish Sea Studies program.” – Sheida Sahandy, former Executive Director of the Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency leading the recovery of Puget Sound.

 Major/Career Resources

How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Students who wish to declare a minor in Salish Sea Studies are required to register with the Salish Sea Studies office. For program advisement, contact Professor Baloy, Canada House 202, 360-650-4871,

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors.


Salish Sea Studies Core (7 credits)

Electives (15 credits)

At least one course from each learning domain; must take a total of at least 15 credits to reach the credit minimum of 22 for the minor. 

Learning Domain 1: Storytelling, Art, and Science Communication

This learning domain focuses on how to express and explain what they learn about the Salish Sea. 

Learning Domain 3: Canada/US and BC/WA Relationships and the Border

This learning domain highlights that the Salish Sea is a transboundary and international bioregion, with two major nation-states and complex governance systems, including Indigenous Nations.

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