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What Do You Get When You Combine World Class Mentors With The Coolest Campus On Earth?

After sailing more than 40 thousand nautical kilometers and into 14 countries on Unreasonable at Sea, we ported in Spain for our culminating event. The technology companies who sailed around the world with us had 6 minutes to share the story of their company to hundreds of people packed into an auditorium in Barcelona.


This talk is from Luke Jones of Semester at Sea.

If you want to solve the world’s problems, you’ve got to get out in the world.  Tweet This Quote

The mission of Semester at Sea (SAS) is to educate individuals with the global understanding necessary to address the challenges of our interdependent world. Established in 1963, Semester at Sea is the only study abroad program of its kind in the world. Using a ship as a traveling campus, undergraduates, lifelong learners, faculty, and lecturers live and learn together while circumnavigating the globe each fall and spring semester and exploring a world region each May and summer term. To date, Semester at Sea has launched 100 voyages, educated more than 50,000 students from 1,500 universities, and traveled to more than 60 countries.

Semester at Sea introduces undergraduate students to global and comparative studies by focusing on structural and social changes taking place in the world today by:

  • Building the insight necessary for perceiving and understanding our increasingly complex and interdependent world.
  • Learning how to interact with cultures and peoples of developed and emerging nations.
  • Developing a better awareness of one’s own culture through comparison and contrast with other cultures.
  • Observing and understanding world issues through first-hand observation.
  • Learning to think critically, with knowledge and understanding about the variety of issues and opportunities that challenge today’s world.
  • Developing a better understanding of the relationship between the United States and other nations of the world.
  • Learning about one’s self through service learning projects.
  • Growing through the challenge of living and learning in a closely integrated shipboard community.

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  • AmandaBrom

    Thank you for sharing this video! I thought the quote “If you want to solve the worlds problems, you’ve got to get out in the world.” This is so true. You wont ever understand the worlds problems unless you go out and see it for yourself. Semester at Sea sounds like a great program to help you explore and not only learn more about school and the world but to also learn more about yourself. It sounds like something you use to find what interest you and what problem you want to solve. What made you come up this great idea?

  • jbrycewilson

    The best part of this opportunity is taking what would otherwise be doctrinal teaching in a theory setting, and creating a learning environment that connects the students with the areas and issues they want to have impact on in the future. Certainly more advantageous than a classroom alone.

  • Leija2014

    Thank you for sharing this article. SAS is a great opportunity because it teaches undergrads the fundamentals of focusing on structural and social changes. I love the quote, “If you want to solve the world’s problems, then you have to go out in the world.” I also like that the students learn about themselves through the service learning projects.

  • natebbeard

    I need to be on this ship someday. It seems that many of my friends who have done this program were somewhat born into opportunity or have fought diligently to acquire that chance to experience a program as amazing as Unreasonable at Sea. Two quick thoughts though…
    1. Is this program scalable or does it desire to become scalable and more available to students and lifelong learners who either don’t necessarily have the opportunity to go or those who may not realize the impact of exposure? Is SAS interested in pursuing those people? I always have struggled with the perception that sometimes doing good isn’t as ‘cool’ or sexy as doing what society tells us, and why the sometimes it seems like some of the most talented individuals tackle the smallest and least relevant problems… I understand that mitigating risk is smart and making money enables people to do more good later in life (ie: Bill Gates), but sometimes I wish that some of my more resourceful and talented friends in the tech startup ecosystem in Boulder and Silicon Valley would try and solve bigger problems. It’s also why I love SAS – because exposure is key to that target audience…
    2. Luke commented on how more and more students come to the program with some experience/exposure to really big/tough global problems, and I think my favorite part about the U@S is the interaction with these students who have seen extreme poverty and want to act on it. It seems like a lot of exposure programs sometimes leave students feeling helpless or overwhelmed after experiencing such massive problems. Unreasonable arms budding entrepreneurs with the hope to achieve some pretty gnarly goals by giving them the chance to interact with people successfully doing it.

  • Tkachukme11

    I think it would be the sweetest thing to go on this ship for a semester. I have always wanted to study abroad while in college, but never got around to it. Family and friends are extremely important to me so it is extremely hard to leave them. In a sense, it sucks because it is a good thing to go and explore different cultures to see what other opportunities are out there. The only skeptic that I have about this Semester at Sea is the whole aspect of how cruises and other ship explorations have been failing lately. I would be interested to see just what kind of students it will draw in or if any precautions will be made to avoid a major disaster.

  • byrnesbk24

    I have leaned so much for these “semester at sea” videos. Such amazing, creative people gave great talks and really got me thinking about the big picture. It would be such an excellent opportunity to go on this to learn, to travel, o meet new people and “change the world”. It is such a good way to get people together that have the same sort of goals. I hope that it just gets better!!!

  • Palecekb

    This is great, I love the ideas of MOOCs! I love the idea of limiting the internet to be able to connect and relate to others on the ship. This is a great opportunity for the students to be able to focus on whats important and to forget what is not. Semester at sea provides so much support and hope to be able to motivate these students to do what they did not think was possible. This is a great experience that should be expanded even more. How do you select the universities you select the students from?

  • hladinim

    This sounds like a great program! I was wondering how long do the students spend in each community and how much time is spent on the boat? I also really liked what you talked about in regards to students “unplugging” from media and spending more time with themselves and others on the ship.

  • DuCharmeDR11

    There are endless opportunities in this world, and I like the idea you state about the desire for authentic engagement. With increased technology and the rapid spread of communication, we are always striving to think about more, do more, and discover something new. The Unreasonable at Sea program is a great way for innovative thinkers to become exposed and inspired, always bouncing ideas off one another. My question for you is do you think students’ independence is smothered by constantly being surrounded by strict structure in a confined space?

  • Anika Rumery

    What an amazing opportunity! If I were to go back and repeat college this is definitely something I would take part in. I truly believe that there is no better way to learn something than actually experience it yourself, ‘hands-on’.

  • vitalecm03

    This was a great video! I agree 100%. We can only make a difference when we get out into the world and change what we want to see different. So many people can sit here and say that they want to see all these changes in the world but how many of them actually get out there and help make a difference. Not many, Ill admit that I don’t always get out there and make the difference I want to see in this harsh world but everyday Im getting better. Ever since I joined my sorority I’ve been doing a lot of community service and give back to those who truly need it and it’s such a rewarding feeling! We all get caught up in our busy lifestyles but if we prioritize what we want to change into our lives we can help make and be the difference we all want to see. Thank you for this!

  • Jeovany_Espino

    Hey there, I agree that new technology and the speed of communication can change many things. However, these ideas, and technologies need to be spread in order for change to occur. If people want to profit from these things then there won’t be much change. Anyways the question you brought up at the end of your paragraph got me thinking. In a way I do think student’s independence is lackin from strict structure. Educationally speaking some countries are more advanced then others and have different system of things and although everyone might know of it, not everyone really understands it. For example Germany is great at solar power and energy, and America although they know of it, isn’t as great at this.

  • Brandon

    Thanks for video!! so true we need to help out other countries and get them better education or save a couple of kids to get a decent education. So countries don’t value education as much as United States. Helping out others can always put a smile on those kids its always the small things.

  • Drew

    Great video and i agree with Brandon, helping out other countries in need is extremely important. But my problem with this is why don’t we solve all the struggle on our own turf first. There are so many people struggling to get that further education. Whether its because of financial reasoning or other, we need to worry about the land we live on first before we keep running elsewhere to help others!

  • LevenhagAL14

    I agree! There are many opportunities for college students to study abroad, and experience other cultures, if the hard work is put forth. What about those people who wish to travel,but are unable to do so because of financial obstruction? There should be many chances for people to directly help out their own communities. It’s all about being informed on the issues!

  • Drew

    I do see that people love to travel and so forth, and should have the experience if presented. But i also look at the struggling communities in the US alone who are constantly struggling and don’t ever see or hear about missions to help out that certain area. I know this isn’t always the case and we do help some but the reality is there are many issuer here with education that i wish wouldn’t go unseen! Thats all! Thanks LevenhagAL14!!

  • Jen McKiernan

    This is such a great way to get out there and see the world. Being able to see different things, work hands-on, and be inspired by them is the best way to help change things. This sounds like such a great opportunity and it sounds like the students are doing such great things. I think I would really enjoy learning this way. This would be such a life changing experience. How do people get to go on a semester at sea?

  • BartuchGR11

    Thank you for sharing this blog. I found this interesting because I never knew about Semester at Sea study abroad program. I think its great that the program helps provide other countries with ways to improve their education system. As a college student myself this is something I am going to have to look into because I think it would be a great experience. I do agree with what the Semester at Sea study abroad program is doing. This program will provide not only new cultural experiences, learning about developing world issues and provide critical thinking skill on how to help solve some of world issues.

  • Marian326

    Thank you for sharing the list of objectives for a Semester at Sea. As a non-traditional student I have been disappointed that my fellow students lack a sense of global awareness. I truly believe that young students need to experience other cultures, as well as living in a situation that will stretch them on many levels. I have always envisioned college as a place to open one’s mind to new ideas and experiences. I would have loved to be a part of this experience.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  • Kait Harman

    Every person in this world should hear about this new opportunity of studying abroad! It is such a wonderful idea. As a college student I would love to partake in this opportunity. If this is around when I have my own children in college I will want them to take advantage of such a wonderful experience. Are there any programs over sea that are longer than one semester?

  • Ashley Nicole Rietbrock

    Thank you for sharing this article/video about the semester at sea program. I think this a great opportunity for college students to experience the world and get to know different cultures. I think this would be a great way to experience different cultures and see who they live and see in some country hard it is for them. If they had more of these semester at sea programs and the students start programs from them like some of the students already have country will be change and helping the world become a better place for people to live. Thank you again for sharing this with us I really enjoyed it.

  • John Darrow

    Thank you for sharing this awesome video. I think whole idea behind Semester at Sea sounds like a life altering experience. Being able to get away and isolate yourself from the crazy world we have made I believe is the key here because it elimates all the noise included in daily life now days. Also, seeing how so many other people live their lives allows us to be able to make comparisons and see things in new ways. The mentoring seems like something that could really expand ones own mind about his or her self. That’s important because if we cannot change ourselves to be better than how are we suppose to influence others. Great watch and I would definitely do this haha. Sounds like a extraordinary experience.

  • http://parisinmadison.blogspot.com/ Amanda O.

    I so agree! Traveling is not the only way to make a difference but I believe it is the most effective way. You learn and grow so much as an individual when you get out into the world and change what you want to see changed in this world. Thank you so much for this post.

  • katie bartlein

    I think it is wonderful that these students are able to get such a great hands-on-expereince throughout the education. I’ve always thought that the best way to learn is to get to experience the issues first hand. It also helps that these individuals are already passionate about the topic they are engaging in. Another great idea is by ‘unplugging’ these students from the world. By doing this, it helps an individual to reconnect with each other and not just over the computer or social media. If a project lasts longer then just a semester, can the group organize a way to get back to the target area and continue to help?

  • Grant15

    This is an amazing idea/experience and has peaked my interest in looking into a semester at sea. I think the only great way to learn is to experience it first hand and get out of your comfort zone. Programs like these empower and encourage young minds that traditional education on a campus just cant provide. It comes with so many life experiences, increased self/global awareness, and a totally changed attitude about life. I wonder now why we are not pushing more of these global experiences in education even at a younger age? Why do students decide to not travel? How can we change that?

  • Britnee_Kay

    I believe the best part about this program is the fact that you don’t have easy access to internet on a ship so you really are disconnected from the overuse of social media today. I think that is one of the first steps to getting people interested and more focused on their education; taking a step out of your everyday world. I would love to take a semester at sea after watching this video and had no idea there are programs out there like this one. I would be interesting to see what the students are like when they get on the ship and how much they have changed after getting off at the end of the year, student video diaries or something of the sort could also be interesting to see with that as well. I can only imagine how much people must change over the course of this semester and what kind of different people it gives to the world. Knowing there are so many people out there dedicated to change for the better is such a relief to see.

  • Josh Pritchard

    I agree! Hands on experience is most likely the best way to learn. The things you learn and get out of hands on is unlike any other opportunity out there. The students are very passionate about the work they are doing and this is a great way to have them interact with other students.

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    I agree, in today’s society everyone is so wrapped up in technology that it seems impossible to learn new things. Never have I heard of something so different and exciting to participated in related to education. I think this would an experience of a lifetime especially for students who enjoys traveling.

  • Drew

    I loved the idea of getting away from the media and other distractions that are taking us away from the world around us. I think that with so much technology improvements it is kind of destroying out communication skills and our ability to communicate face to face!

  • Brittney Glende

    I very much agree with what you said Britnee about the article, the best part about this program is that you do not have easy access to the internet on a ship so you are pretty much disconnected from the overuse of social media. Today that is a huge problem in our society. & Yes to get people more interested in their education they need to step outside of their everyday world and use less of the social media.

  • AndreaBehling

    I agree that this sounds like an absolutely extraordinary experience. What strikes me as the most important element of this program is the pooling of ideas that happens there. So often we applaud and encourage interconnectivity and the sharing of ideas on a daily basis through technology with thousands of innovative people across timezones. But this program puts together a small group of people to make big plans and do big things, which is a much better way to make big change than in a chatroom.

  • Logan Dohmeier

    This is a fantastic program that seems to really serve its purpose in getting students hands-on experience with real world problems. I think any sort of first hand experience is always the best for learning as it can really open up your eyes to what some of these problems truly encompass. Also, the fact that “the outside world” is put on hold only exemplifies the experience. Since you are “stuck” without technological influence it really requires you to focus in on the community you now have become a part of. I am curious as to how many of the students actually re-engage in working on some of the experiences they have observed. I can only imaging that the overall experience would instill a whole new level of understanding in regards to some of the issues that were addressed and seen first hand.

  • jack lomax

    I kind of agree, and kind of disagree with this statement. I do like how everyone isn’t wrapped up with technology..glued to their phones, or taking selfies for fb/twitter. But we can’t be ignorant to the fact that we now live in a world that DOES rely on technology. Its sad, but true. But it’s also awesome that we have access to this wealth of knowledge literally a finger click away. So I’d have to disagree with the statement that it is impossible to learn new things, I think we are actually in a position where we are open to unlimited information.

    But overall, I’d much rather be on a boat and experiencing the world, instead of sitting on google. Travel definitely broadens the mind and opens you up to new things.

  • Angela Hoch

    Brittney, I also agree with Britnee about not having the easy access to the internet and forcing yourself to be away from the social media for awhile. I think it’s great that people like to stay “connected” but also feel that it tends to consume our lives. It also can cause students to consume their time with social media, rather than taking their education more serious. Great points ladies!