Salish Sea Institute


The Salish Sea Institute works to share knowledge across disciplines and borders.

Western Washington University established the Salish Sea Institute (SSI) in 2017 with the mission to raise awareness and protection for the Salish Sea. The Institute and WWU is situated in the Salish Sea bioregion, in Coast Salish territories and near the international border.

The goal of the Institute is to build meaningful connections across borders, disciplines, and systems of knowledge and governance to bring to life an environmentally healthy and just future for the Salish Sea.

To fulfill this mission and goal, the Institute supports bioregional convenings, research, and teaching, including offering the first multidisciplinary Salish Sea Studies Minor and a variety of programming to promote a sense of place for the WWU campus and our bioregional community.

The Salish Sea bioregion is an estuarine inland sea surrounded by snow-capped mountain ranges and rich in biodiversity. Freshwater lakes and glaciers filter through temperate rainforest into rivers that meet the saltwater and tides from the Pacific Ocean, filling the Puget Sound, Georgia Basin, and Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The name “Salish Sea” reflects the long history of Straits and Coast Salish peoples, who have deep and abiding relationships with the lands and waters of this region since time immemorial. Over the past two centuries, the Canada-US border and each nation’s governance structures have cut across this waterscape and intersected with Indigenous nations’ laws and governance systems in myriad ways. Millions of people from around the world have moved to the region’s cities and rural areas. Settler colonial systems and industrial-scale population growth in the region, combined with resource economies and global climate change, create myriad challenges for the future of this region and all who live here.

Salish Sea Institute reports, convenings, resources, and curricula address these issues to invite people on and beyond campus to collectively care for the Salish Sea now and into the future.

  • Salish Sea Institute
  • State of the Salish Sea Report
  • Emerging Issues in the Salish Sea
  • Salish Sea Maps
  • Salish Sea Studies Curricular Repository
  • Salish Sea Publications by Students
  • Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference
  • Events and Presentations
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    Institute Publications