All Aboard!

Dr. Bryan Willson (sixth from the right) pictured with the ship’s captain, admin team, and officers.

Last semester, a handful of CSU students voyaged into uncharted academic territory. They took their books to a place where extracurricular activities include world exploration; classmates are roommates; the classroom is a ship; and campus is the open waters. Semester at Sea is one of the unique academic journeys a University student can embark on, and it is easy to see why.

It was no surprise to find Dr. Bryan Willson, ME professor, in Cape Town, South Africa, last semester, as a port lecturer shedding light on social enterprise and how it influences various industries. In 2014, he was on the CSU team that won the bid to host SAS. Now, CSU runs the academics, counseling, medical team, registrar, and dean of students in partnership with the Institute of Shipboard Education.

Dr. Bryan Willson (left) presenting to the shipboard community in the “Cross Currents” evening seminar series.

“My original major in college was in ship design,” said Dr. Willson, “I am also active internationally, love the educational field, and enjoyed bringing together multiple passions during Semester at Sea. It was a blast!”

Each semester, the ship hosts up to 30 faculty members and 600 students from all around the globe. The most recent voyage sailed from San Diego and docked at ports across the world, including Hawaii, Japan, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco, before ending in Germany. Students end up forming strong bonds as they partake in unique learning experiences and extracurricular activities together, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

CSU is a leader in sustainability and carried that focus to SAS. “I lectured on topics such as ocean energy, health impacts of cookstoves, and social enterprise,” Dr. Willson said.

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Students spend five or six days at sea traveling to the next port, and at each port there are required activities, based on the courses each student is taking, and optional activities as well. “There were a number of CSU students on the ship; there were engineering students from other universities, but none from CSU,” he observed. He also noted that he would like to see SAS be a more common activity for CSU engineering students due to the worldly experiences the program offers.

If you are interested in expanding your boundaries outside the confines of campus, discover SAS and immerse yourself in pure adventure! Learn more at