Fall 2017 Gears up for Global Studies

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May 9, 2017


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Fall 2017 Gears up for Global Studies

Dr. Gogniat jokes around in Ghana

One of the greatest things about travel is that no two experiences are exactly alike. That holds true for Semester at Sea Voyagers as well; students take a variety of classes on board the MV World Odyssey, sign up for different field programs, and try out independent travel, making every port of call a unique experience for each voyager.

Of course, the exception to that rule—as Fall 2017 Voyagers will soon find out—is Global Studies. During the Fall 2017 Voyage, the required course will be taught by Don Gogniat, Ph.D., of Penn State University. The Fall 2017 Voyage will be Dr. Gogniat’s ninth, and he loves watching students develop during their time at sea.

“You watch them grow like bamboo,” said Dr. Gogniat of his experience observing students sailing with Semester at Sea.“Going around the world just changes everybody. If you do it right, they stay involved, they stay intent, they learn a lot of stuff, and it makes for better interaction when they go onshore.”

Dr. Gogniat talks with Fidel Castro during a previous voyage

The Fall 2017 voyage will also be Dr. Gogniat’s fifth time teaching Global Studies, and the theme during the upcoming semester will be “Migrations, Mutations, and Celebrations.” “Migrations” refers to the globalization of the world, “Mutations” to the ways different cultures accept or reject globalization, and “Celebrations” references the unique cultural phenomenon that Fall 2017 Voyagers will observe in each port. Throughout the semester, Dr. Gogniat will have students work in teams on a specialized assignments of their choosing that relates to the overall theme of the course.

“One of the things I have the students do is they’re going to work in groups of mostly six, and they’re going to do projects,” Dr. Gogniat said. “They’ll actually do a documentary on some aspect of how they’ve seen the world change. They have to compare whatever aspect of globalization they’re looking at in at least six countries.”

Past documentaries have focused on alternative medicine, street graffiti, architecture, and more. To see examples of previous student projects, click here.

In addition to globalization, Global Studies will tackle universal subjects like environmentalism, religious expression, and economic infrastructure and communication systems within each country. Perhaps most importantly, the course will help prepare voyagers to meet and engage with locals around the world.

“Throughout Global Studies, there will be ten travel tips I give out as they go along, and each travel tip is about how to make the voyage a little bit more in-depth with the interactions they have with people,” Dr. Gogniat said.

And while Global Studies helps prepare students for their in-country experiences, Dr. Gogniat has seen the course—and the voyage as a whole— create more globally engaged students and professionals. That is one of the reasons he keeps coming back to teach with with Semester at Sea.

“I’m still in touch with people from every voyage, from 1985 to 2012,” Dr. Gogniat said. “I’ve written 100 reference letters for kids. I’ve seen them go to the Peace Corps, I’ve seen them start non-profits and make a big difference in Africa, for example. A couple of them work for the State Department now. It’s just fun.”

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