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Buzzards Bay Term 

The Gull Island Institute runs a 3-week program on Penikese and Cuttyhunk Islands in Buzzards Bay, MA. The dates of this year's program are

May 13 - June 2, 2024.

The program, which is free of charge, is intended for students who have completed at least two years of an undergraduate program (or have comparable academic preparation) or recent graduates who will have received their bachelor’s degree in 2023 or 2024.

Applications for the Buzzards Bay Term are now closed.

Cistern Seminar from distance_edited.jpg

About the Program:

Inspired by our 2023 Junemester program, the Buzzards Bay Term will select a cohort of 8-9 students to live, learn, and work together on remote islands an hour offshore of Cape Cod, MA. During the program, all students participate in a Core Seminar focused around textual study in Western and Indigenous traditions and the history and ecology of the Buzzards Bay region at multiple scales. Students are required to engage in daily labor rotations, including aquaculture work on a 300,000 oyster farm, land conservation, cooking, maintenance/woodworking, and sustainable gardening. Finally, the student body assumes a key role in determining ground rules for the community through regular self-governance meetings. Before applying, please make sure to acquaint yourself with our approach to the "three pillars" that form the core of the educational experience at The Gull Island Institute.

Our faculty consists of teachers, scholars, and educators from across the arts and humanities, social and natural sciences (see a list of faculty alums here). Student Teaching Fellows from previous Gull Island cohorts will be in residence to support and mentor Buzzards Bay Term students. 


The 2024 Buzzards Bay Term, including room-and-board, is tuition-free.

What to expect:

Minimal amenities, semi-private accommodations, and close collaboration with others. Spotty internet, oil lamps and wood-stoves. Seminar discussions that continue long after class ends. Students and Faculty reside together in the beautiful main house on Penikese Island, which is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and which sits a stone's throw from a protected bird sanctuary. A policy of no drugs (including tobacco) and alcohol is strictly enforced. 

A typical day:

A day begins on Penikese Island with breakfast prepared by your peers and time for students to catch up on readings. Labor rotations then break out: one group departs Penikese by boat across the cove to Cuttyhunk Island for work on the Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farm, while another group stays on Penikese to mulch the garden, mend fences, and repurpose a salvaged lobster trap into a compost bin. After lunch, everyone reconvenes for a two-hour afternoon seminar before the kitchen crew meets to cook dinner. After seminar - and before the dinner bell - a group heads over to the basketball court next to the garden, while others read in the living room or head upstairs to the sleeping loft for a moment of down time. Over dinner, students and faculty continue discussing the day's reading, while others joke about the intractable slowness of walking through the water in knee-high waders. After dinner, students convene the general body for a self-governance meeting to manage affairs of the community, prepare for the coming days work, and build Gull Island for the future.

Questions? Email us at

Gull Island Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), citizenship, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in the administration of any of its educational programs, admissions policies, financial aid, and other related policies and programs, as well as volunteer and employment-related policies and activities.

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