Water, Hazards, and Coastal Change in Jamaica

Program Dates: June 5, 2024 - June 18, 2024

This 14-day study abroad experience will take students to Jamaica’s quieter, lesser-known southwest coast. Students will learn about the impacts of climate change on Jamaica’s hydrosphere, from the mountains to the sea. They will investigate these topics through field measurement and observation, discussions with local stakeholders and community members, and student-led discussions of relevant literature. In addition to studying the physical processes associated with Jamaica’s hydrosphere, students will engage in literature reviews and discussions that consider how climate change impacts on the local population may be exacerbated by the legacy of colonial settlement on the Island. Students will perform their coursework amongst the stunning backdrop of Jamaica’s southwest coast and its equally vibrant culture, providing them with an unforgettable, transformative study abroad experience. Additionally, students will experience a sense of accomplishment as they work with the non-profit organization Jah-Works to install a rainwater catchment system at the home of a community member in need. This course is being offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels and is limited to 10 participants. 



Jamaica is a small island nation that is part of the Greater Antilles chain of islands in the Caribbean Sea, with Cuba to its north, Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) to its east, and the Cayman Islands to its west. Although a relatively small island (~4,000 mi2), it has a wide range of landscapes from lush, interior mountains, to rainforests, to reef-lined beaches that draw beach-seeking tourists from around the world. Additionally, the island boasts a vibrant culture with a strong global presence, probably best known for its development of the musical genre, reggae, as well as the religious and social movement of Rastafarianism. Like many Caribbean Island nations, climate change is having noticeable impacts on weather patterns, hydrological processes, and coastal processes, which are in turn affecting the lives of citizens in a variety of ways from decreased household water availability, to lost tourism revenue from beach erosion. This study abroad will take place on Jamaica’s southwest coast. The first half of the course will take place in and around the community of Treasure Beach and Calabash Bay, and the second half of the course will take place in and around the community of Bluefields, and Bluefields Bay. Numerous excursions will take students from the interior mountains to the coast where they will have the opportunity to swim in, and zipline over tropical waterfalls, observe endangered American Crocodiles in the mangroves of the Black River, and snorkel around the protected reef of Bluefields Bay, all while learning about Jamaica’s physical and cultural environment, and the relationships between them.  



Course Prefix

Course Name



GHY 4820/5820

Geographical Hydrology


Derek J. Martin

GHY 4530/5530

Jamaica: Environment and Culture


Derek J. Martin

Faculty Leader

Dr. Derek J. Martin

Associate Professor,  River System Dynamics; Geomorphology; Hydrology

Department of Geography and Planning


Dr. Martin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning where his research focuses on hydro-geomorphology with an emphasis on river system geomorphology and watershed processes. He has extensive experience with leading students on international travel experiences, leading study abroad courses to the Peruvian Andes, and leading field research campaigns to the Ecuadorian Andes, and coastal Jamaica. He earned his PhD in Geography from the University of Tennessee in 2014. He joined Appalachian State University as an Assistant Professor in 2014 immediately after completing his PhD, and now also serves as the Graduate Program Director for the Department of Geography and Planning. 


Program Cost: $4,210

Program cost includes airfare, most meals, and lodging.  All fees associated with tourist site visits and activities.

Please note - Students are responsible for the total program cost upon submiting the application and deposit. Refunds are contingent upon meeting the minimum enrollment of the program. If a student decides to withdraw before departure, that student may be eligible for a refund if the program has met minimum enrollment and is therefore viable. 

Non-billable costs are estimates only and will be affected by personal spending habits, currency fluctuations, etc. Prices listed in USD unless otherwise noted.  Students are encouraged to start planning for their study abroad program costs well in advance. 

Payment Schedule





 Upon receipt of application

Remaining balance due




Estimated Additional Expenses 


Undergraduate Tuition - Resident

$153/credit hour

Undergraduate Tuition - Non-resident

$173/credit hour

Graduate Tuition - Resident 

$188/credit hour

Graduate Tuition - Non-resident 

$208/credit hour



Spending money


Additional meals


Wellness check / Vaccinations 


Appalachian reserves the right to cancel or alter the program format or to change costs in case of conditions beyond the university's control.  Further details about Appalachian's withdrawal/cancellation policy can be found at this link.


Application Process

  1. In order to apply for this program, you will need to contact one of the program leaders and provide your Banner ID and email address. Program leaders may request additional information or a meeting to discuss the details of the program and your interest.
  2. When permission to apply for the program is granted, you will receive an email from your program leader with instructions to apply.
  3. Apply to the program following the instructions from the program leader.
  4. Print, sign and drop off your application at the Office of International Education and Development at Plemmons Student Union (PSU), Suite 321 ( 3rd floor), 263 Locust Street Boone, NC 28608. Your application will be considered complete when you have submitted your digital application, paid the $300 deposit, and dropped off your printed and signed application. The fee cannot be paid until it appears on your student account. Please note that it may take 2–3 business days for it to post to your account. You will receive an email with Instructions for paying the deposit fee. Instructions can also be found in the application.