Students will gain the skills necessary to communicate effectively with their peers, scientists, policymakers, and the general public by producing short, compelling videos. Issues such as marine protected areas, sustainable fishing, watershed ecosystems, beach erosion, aquaculture, and others will be closely studied, providing a foundation for the research necessary to produce an informative film. Blue Horizons students learn techniques of digital video camera operations, sound gathering, lighting, and editing with industry standard Final Cut Pro.

Questions about the Blue Horizons program can be addressed to Emily Zinn at

All Four Courses are Required

The following courses (and listed units) are required for all Blue Horizons students. Students are not allowed to audit any of the courses. All four courses must be taken for credit and successfully completed, in succession. Accepted students will receive add codes via email for each of the courses listed below. Once the add codes have been received, students can register online via the GOLD system. International students and non-UCSB students should contact Summer Sessions (805-893-2315) for additional information on how to register.

Session A (June 24 – August 2)

FAMST 182 – Introduction to Environmental Media
(4 units)

Schedule: T/TH 9:00 – 11:50 AM

This course ties the acquisition of critical viewing skills for film to the practice of conceiving and writing short environmental documentaries. Students screen narrative films and documentaries, deconstruct them, and use their new proficiency to write their own documentary treatments.


FAMST 109EM – Introduction to Environmental Media Production
(4 units)

Schedule: M/W 9:00 – 11:50 AM

This course is designed to give students the core skills needed to conceptualize, capture, edit, and deliver short-form documentaries with an environmental theme. Basic aspects of cinematography, lighting, sound, and editing are covered.

Session D (June 24 – July 12)

ENVS 193BH – Issues in Marine Conservation
(2 units)

Schedule: T/TH 1:00 – 2:20 PM and W 12:30 – 3:00 PM Field Trips

This three week course surveys the major threats currently facing California marine ecosystems and many proposed approaches for mitigating threats and sustainably managing ecosystems. Case studies will be used to highlight the biological, socio-economic, and political aspects of marine conservation. This course will be compressed into the first weeks of the summer so that Blue Horizons students will be able to select the topic of their environmental film from a range of local ocean related issues.

Session F: (August 5- August 23)

FAMST 109EP – Advanced Environmental Media Production
(4 units)

Schedule: M/W 9:00 – 11:50 AM 

This course will have students in the field autonomously producing a short-form digital documentary. Emphasis will be on development of creative style and storytelling. To be taken immediately following FLM ST 109EM. Student-produced documentaries will premiere in the Pollock Theater on the last day of the session.

Blue Horizons FAQ

Do I have to be a current student at UCSB? Are international students eligible for the program?

The Blue Horizons Program is open to UCSB students, interested adults, high school graduates or students from other colleges and universities, including international students. Desired applicants should have some experience in media production or biological sciences.

How/when will I know if I am accepted? How do I confirm my acceptance?

All application materials will be reviewed and evaluated by the program management. Starting February 16 and continuing through May, applicants will receive an email confirming their placement. Those who are accepted will be asked to confirm their participation in the program via email. Once confirmation is received, accepted students will be sent additional registration and orientation information.

Can I take other classes in conjunction with the Blue Horizons Program? How time intensive is the program?

Accepted students should NOT plan on taking any other courses outside of the program. Blue Horizons courses require a significant amount of time from students, both inside the classroom and out in the field.

What is the cost of tuition/fees for the Blue Horizons Program?

Visit this page for current UCSB summer sessions fees. There are no additional lab or equipment fees. Students will be required to purchase a course reader and will need to purchase a hard drive if they don’t already own one. Other potential course costs include a fee for the class whale watching boat tour of the Santa Barbara Channel and costs for stock music and video footage.

Are there any financial resources/stipends to help cover costs?

Complete financial aid packages are available for all new and continuing UCSB students. Students may contact the Financial Aid Office (805-893-2432), or go to the Financial Aid website, for all questions related to obtaining financial aid.

How do I learn about student housing?

University Housing will be available for students attending UCSB Summer Session 2018. The on-line application process opens in early March. Applications for Summer Sessions lodging can be found at the UCSB Housing Office.

You should apply for housing even if you have not yet been accepted into the Blue Horizons program, as places fill up fast and completing the form now will get your name into the housing queue. You are not required to include a perm number on your application, as “summer-only” non-UC students can’t enroll in courses until May.


Blue Horizons is generously sponsored by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Benioff Ocean Initiative Environmental Media Fellowship program, generously funded by Marc and Lynne Benioff, provides financial support for Blue Horizons students.

The program is cosponsored by the Associated Student Coastal Fund, the UCSB Department of Film and Media Studies and UCSB Summer Sessions.

We are grateful to the National Marine Sanctuaries Channel Islands for its donation of stock video footage.