Biology in Ireland

Intensive Courses | Semester Courses and Programs | OceanWorld Aquarium Internship ProgramContact | SHU in Dingle Website


Biology in Ireland

The Biology Department has been extensively involved in the development of Sacred Heart University’s SHU in Dingle program and its faculty are committed to offering both our own students and those from other universities engaging educational and research experiences that are focused on topical areas in the biological sciences and at the same time engage creatively with Irish industry, landscape and culture.

Intensive Courses

The intensive courses we offer during the January and May Short Term Programs in Dingle are designed for the participation of both non-majors and Biology Department majors.  The non-major course descriptions are given below.  If you are interested in pursuing the course for credit as an elective in a Biology Department Major, please see the associated course listings at the 200 level and/or contact the Biology Department.

BI 104: Introduction to Coastal Ecology of Ireland
Ireland is an island nation with a proud tradition of maritime explorers and innovators that stretches back to St. Brendan the Navigator.  Ireland has 220 million acres of seabed, more than 10 times the size of Ireland itself. That means 90% of Ireland is underwater.  This course explores the importance of the coasts and seas surrounding Ireland with respect to history, biodiversity, sustainability, and innovation.   First we trace the flow of water from the mountain to the seas examining both biological and physical changes along the way.  We investigate a variety of coastal habitats including sandy beaches, rocky shores, and salt marshes.  A trip on the open water allows us to peer beneath the waves to explore the underwater biodiversity of the surrounding coastal waters.  Finally we examine Ireland’s role in the global fisheries community and how commercial fishing, aquaculture, and coastal management are shaping Ireland’s future.  This course is typically offered in the May Short Term Program.  Non-major Course: Prerequisites: None

BI 176: Introduction to Oceanography of Ireland
The Irish have long viewed the ocean with fear and reverence. Strong waves and large tides have shaped the coast of Ireland and Irish thought over millennia. Meanwhile chemical oceanography drives all life in the ocean; without the input of nutrients and essential minerals from terrestrial sources, the coast of Ireland would be devoid of life, and fishing, a major sector of the local economy, would cease to exist. All of these topics will be discussed in detail in this three-credit course covering the principles of oceanography specifically the physical and chemical processes that influence the coastal ocean of Ireland.  Upon arrival in Dingle, students will conduct on-site laboratory exercises, experiments, and participate in long-term research on and around the coastline of Dingle.  Students will utilize classroom, field, and laboratory activities to gain a better understanding of the basic principles of oceanography.  This course is typically offered during the January Short Term program.  Non-majors Course, Pre-Prerequisites: None

Microbiology in Irish History and Culture (Proposed Course, tentatively scheduled for Spring 2017)
The organisms typically studied by microbiologists; bacteria, fungi, protists, etcetera; have had a profound influence on the history and culture of essentially every human society, most notably in the areas of disease (both plant and animal), fermented foods, and drink.  From the devastating plant disease that led to the Great Famine of the 19th century, to cholera plagues, to the banbidh, or “white foods” that formed the basis of the Irish diet before the potato arrived in the 16th century, to the enjoyable beers and whiskeys unique to Ireland, the lens of Irish Culture and History provides an ideal focus to illustrate and teach basic principles of microbial disease, physiology, diversity, and genetics.  This course will utilize the resources of the Dingle Peninsula and SHU’s campus in Ireland for an engaging series of site visits and case studies couple with classroom and limited laboratory work that will provide a foundational knowledge of the breadth and diversity of microbial science.  This course is may be offered either in the May or June Short-Term Program. Non-major Course; Prerequisites: None

Semester Courses and Programs

Coastal & Marine Science Major

A component of the Coastal & Marine Science major is a semester abroad in the SHU in Dingle Program (typically during the second semester of a students Junior year).  In various combinations, the three courses described below will typically be offered in Ireland during the spring semester, beginning in the spring of 2018.  These courses are open to all students meeting the pre-requisite requirements, particularly those majoring in programs offered by the Biology Department.  Enrollment is by application with 1st preference being given to students’ majoring in Coastal & Marine Science.

BI 278 Coastal Ecology
Forming the interface between land and sea, the coastal zone is characterized by steep gradients, abundant life, and extreme temporal and spatial heterogeneity. The coastal zone includes the most productive and diverse ocean ecosystems, and these areas also experience significant anthropogenic impacts. More than 50% of the human population lives within 200km of the coast due to its prolific fishing grounds, important mineral resources, and shipping activities. Students in Coastal Ecology will explore the function and value of coastal ecosystems including estuaries, beaches, rocky shores, mud flats, marshes, dunes, bluffs, coastal grasslands, and woodlands.

In this interdisciplinary course, we will investigate the general ecological principles that govern the productivity and diversity of coastal ecosystems, including their hydrodynamics, sedimentology, chemistry, and plant and animal community structure. We will also discuss anthropogenic influences on various coastal ecosystems, including pollution, human developments, and climate change as well as possible solutions to these problems.  The course includes a number of field trips with demonstrations of some characteristics of temperate estuaries and coasts. Prerequisites: BI 202/204 Ecology Lecture and Lab; CH 152/154 General Chemistry II Lecture and Lab, MA 140 Precalculus

BI 274 - Coastal Management
In general, coastal management is a complex study and practice that integrates multidisciplinary natural and social sciences. It requires continuous exploration and knowledge about the relationships between habitats, applied ecology, climate, oceanography, watersheds and all types of human activities that affect coastal ecosystems as well as coastal communities (e.g. urban development, tourism, fisheries, protected areas, aquaculture, agriculture, etc.). There are numerous issues facing the world’s coastlines and the key question is whether the coasts can be managed to successfully and sustainably absorb the pressures. Understanding of coastal ecosystem's "function, health and resilience" is an imperative for successful applications in adaptive coastal management. Although it is a huge challenge to manage world„s coasts, we do have the knowledge, science and technology to use coastal resources in sustainable way. This course will focus on a case study approach, and provide a general overview of past and present activities as well as potential future practices in integrated coastal management. It will also describe main principles, strategies and methods in coastal management, development of coastal management plan and the basic processes of its implementation. Prerequisites: BI 202/204 Ecology Lecture and Lab; CH 152/154 General Chemistry II Lecture and Lab

BI303 GIS for Environmental Applications
This course focuses on the development of GIS principles, methods, and techniques that are particularly relevant to and useful for problem solving in environmental analysis and management.  Specifically this course has four major components: an overview of selected GIS principles including data models, scale and spatial sampling, and spatial autocorrelation; a review of the major techniques for environmental data acquisition and integration; an introduction to environmental analysis and modeling techniques; and a discussion of several applied areas of environmental modeling techniques as related to coastal ecology, hydrology, natural hazards, natural resources management, and environmental planning.  Prerequisites: BI 202/204 Ecology Lecture and Lab; CH 152/154 General Chemistry II Lecture and Lab, MA 140 Precalculus

Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium Internship

Oceanworld Aquarium is one of Ireland’s largest and most popular aquariums; housing species from Ireland, Europe and all over the world. The Aquarium has agreed to host two students from the Biology Department for two months.  Interns assist the Head Aquarist with animal care and enrichment projects over the course of the summer while learning to handle a wide variety of organisms ranging from fish to penguins to otters to crocodiles.  Interns also assist the Aquarium with ongoing research projects (hatching lobsters, rearing lumpfish) as well as making contributions to an ongoing interdisciplinary research project examining the development of sustainable tourism management strategies in Dingle.  Interns must have a 3.0 overall GPA, a full year of Concepts in Biology (B average or greater) by the start of the internship.  Interns must also be willing to handle adverse physical conditions and weather.  Each intern is required to registe for and take the Coastal Ecology of Ireland course prior to the start of the internship.  For more information, contact Dr. Mark Beekey or Dr. LaTina Steele.

Participating in the Dingle Internship was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. The people I met, the experiences I had, and the knowledge that I attained is invaluable. I miss Dingle nearly every day and hope that many more students get the chance to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. ~Nicole Barney, 2014 Summer Intern


For more information on the courses and programs described above, please contact the Biology Department Assistant Chair: Dr. Kirk Bartholomew, email:, phone: 203-371-7740. 

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