On Jan. 5, nearly 600 college students from around the world set sail on the educational journey of a lifetime – a global learning expedition for a Semester at Sea. Over 105 days, participants traverse the globe, taking classes onboard while at sea, and stopping at 12 ports in 11 countries for field programs and cultural immersion experiences.
The embarkation in Ensenada, Mexico, just two hours south of San Diego, marked the first time a Semester at Sea voyage has launched from a North American port since the beginning of the program’s partnership with Colorado State University. Last semester’s maiden voyage left from Hamburg, Germany, sailing to 12 countries over 104 days before docking in San Diego on Dec. 22.
The diverse shipboard community also includes faculty, staff, crew, family members, and lifelong learners (non-traditional voyagers who participate in courses and field classes).
The 19 CSU students on the voyage are joined by 17 CSU-affiliated faculty and staff, several of whom are in prominent leadership positions. CSU Economics Professor Bob Kling is serving as academic dean while CSU’s Dean of Students Jody Donovan is Dean of Student Life for all of the students on the voyage. CSU’s registrar, Chris Seng, is the academic advisor and registrar.
“We’re teaching CSU courses, but they are ‘portified,’” said Kling. “We take courses that we would teach at CSU, and then apply them specifically to the itinerary that we are facing.”
CSU faculty, staff and alumni have also taken on a variety of academic and student support roles, including teaching courses and leading field excursions, managing the ship’s library and intranet, providing mental health counseling, and documenting the experience through social and digital media. All students are required to take a core Global Studies course, which was developed in conjunction with CSU faculty and is co-taught onboard by cultural expert Eric Aoki, a CSU communication studies professor.
Strong CSU presence
During the two weeks between the fall and spring voyages, the MV World Odyssey vessel was docked in San Diego, while Semester at Sea and Colorado State University employees prepared to ensure the success of current and future voyages, and to maintain the health of the academic partnership.
CSU Provost Rick Miranda and Vice President of University Operations Lynn Johnson, who sit on the Semester at Sea board of trustees, attended several days of meetings. The next three voyages’ Academic Deans, all of whom are from CSU, were also in attendance. John Olienyk, emeritus professor of finance; Dean Emerita of the College of Health and Human Sciences Nancy Hartley; and Mary Vogl, chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures were all observing faculty and staff orientation and familiarizing themselves with the unique challenges and opportunities of ship life.
Several other attendees from CSU – including faculty members and staff from International Programs, Financial Aid, Student Affairs, the Health Network and more – participated in a week-long site visit, sitting in on orientation, helping with a reception for parents, and helping to greet and check in students as they arrived.
“Colorado State has really put its imprint on this voyage,” said Donovan. “Seamless learning, our values, the principles of community, inclusive excellence – all of that has been woven through the voyage, and it has only just begun.”
Semester at Sea Spring 2017 Voyage – By the Numbers
33 academic staff
24 administrative staff
18 CSU students
17 CSU-affiliated faculty/staff
16 Lifelong Learners
46 family members