Literature, Creative Writing, and Marine Biology in Friday Harbor

Application Deadline: 
July 1, 2014

Program Information


Information about the ENGL 581 Graduate Seminar in Friday Harbor

Study in the San Juans this Fall!

This fall, live by the sea and enroll in courses that explore the beautiful and varied marine environment at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor campus. Read, write, and explore the sea and the seashore through literature, creative writing, marine biology, ocean, and fisheries courses (12-17 credits) that take full advantage of the San Juan Island setting. What better place to read works of sea-faring literature, or to take a marine biology course where you can actually interact with the marine life you are studying? Writers, artists, scientists, and researchers have long been drawn to the sea – come and experience it for yourself while earning UW credit!

The English courses, Reading and Writing the Marine Environment (ENGL 365, 5 credits-VLPA), and an optional Creative Writing Lab/Workshop (ENGL 493, 1-5 cr) will be taught by Professor Richard Kenney, UW English Department faculty. Students who are interested in taking science courses or who need Natural World (NW) creditmay also wish to register for Introduction to Marine Biology, (FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250, 5cr), which has no required pre-requisites and will be taught by Dr. Emily Carrington from the Department of Biology, or Ichthyology (FISH 311, 5cr) taught by Dr. Adam Summers from the Department of Fisheries.

An article about the Friday Harbor program was featured in the Spring 2012 issue of English Matters: "It’s not about the landscape, but it IS all about the landscape."

Find Poetry in Friday Harbor on Facebook

“Stand on that hill with the soft-swept grass and the dying climbing-tree. Shut your eyes harder, and revive the feelings: blooming camaraderie, hesitance forgotten by the unprompted bond that digs deeper than personal discrepancies, shadows pale in the face of that which drew us to the fire every night: an unspoken commonality, a shared spark.” -- Libby Hsu, past participant

"If you have any inclination to write, whether it be creatively or not, this program will definitely be worth your while. You're going to spend 3 life expanding months out in the San Juan Islands memorizing poetry, writing expressively, and spending quality time with students who share the drive to learn and to live boldly in their quest for meaning. But it's not just about writing, this course will push your mind to think in new and wondrous ways in which you may never have known were possible. It will make you so much more curious about what words mean and how words convey ideas and thus shape our entire human experience. I cannot recommend this course more if you are at a place in your life where you don't know quite where to go next." -- Kimber Loudon, past participant

Presentation about the Program (PDF)

Location: Friday Harbor Laboratories

THE FRIDAY HARBOR LABORATORIES (FHL) is the UW’s world renowned marine science research facility located on a 484-acre biological preserve on pristine San Juan Island, 75 miles northwest of Seattle, part of an archipelago that lies between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The islands of the San Juan Archipelago are generally rocky, forested, and rimmed by precipitous shores. Some are deeply cut by fjord-like inlets. The islands were strongly glaciated and have valleys with lakes, swamps, and bogs. The varied terrestrial and freshwater habitats offer a diverse flora and fauna.

Students live on-site in the FHL dorms for the whole quarter.

"A typical day is going to start off with breakfast in a wood lodge. Good food. Coffee, tea, hot cocoa always available as well as other beverages. It's really cozy and the environment is just breath-taking. You'll go to a few classes per day, interspersed with meals and games and poetry recitations at night around a campfire. Lots of free time too to explore, take the row boats to town for a brew or a movie..." --Kimber Loudon, past participant

Application Process

How to apply: Students should apply online, via the Friday Harbor Laboratories website.

Application Deadline: Priority admission: May 15, 2014. Standard application review date: July 1, 2014. Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applications will be accepted after July 1 if space is available. For information please contact Stacy Markman, FHL Student Coordinator.

Required Documents:

  • Web application form
  • Course preference list
  • Transcripts: Electronic submission strongly preferred. Send your UW transcript as an Adobe PDF document (.pdf) to Stacy Markman, Student Coordinator, Friday Harbor Laboratories, or fax it to: (206) 543-1273.

The Director of Friday Harbor Laboratories has final authority in accepting persons for the FHL instructional program. Humanities students enrolling in the Marine Biology Quarter are not required to submit letters of recommendation or a personal statement. Only the web application form and transcripts are required.

Contact Information: 

Marine Biology Quarter and Friday Harbor Laboratories Student Services contacts:
Marine Biology Adviser, Christen Foehring; 206-543-7426; email
Stacy Markman,Friday Harbor Laboratories Student Coordinator; 206-616-0753; email

Department of English Contact:
Kimberly Swayze, Academic Adviser; 206-543-2634; email

Program Status: