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Key Components of the Global Leadership Program

Learning Circles

Learning Circles are a key component of the academic program and part of the Global Leadership foundation course. Faculty, students and staff utilize this experiential framework to integrate in-port learning with the studies on-board. Students explore in-class themes through classroom study, planned activities onboard and the academic port programs with their learning circle. Throughout the voyage, they share their insights and experiences with the other learning circles to expand the learning experiences of all of the participants on-board. A graduate student from Ghana expressed, “our experience today is a step to discover our potential for tomorrow’s task.” 

Academic Port Programs

Students participate in several in-port academic field study programs during the short- and semester-long programs. Designed to complement the curriculum and the learning circle activities, students meet with leaders from companies, NGOs and governmental agencies and get a direct, real-world experience of critical global issues and local concerns. A graduate business student reported, “though our Academic Field Program in Bangalore, India was focused on Information Technology and outsourcing, the experiential learning came from taking a sleeper train and witnessing the everyday lives of Indian people in the train depots. The unforgettable sights and smells there changed me as person. Who knew an AFP could have such an impact?” 

  • University Exchange Program: Visiting local universities provide GSI’s community with an opportunity to attend lectures and network with other faculty and local students. These cultural exchanges and peace building activities provide participants with valuable insights about the issues facing the countries visited on the voyage. GSI is working with a global network of universities to recruit students, collaborate with professors and create alliances so that students can potentially matriculate for graduate study. For example, the entire shipboard community visited Fudan University in Shanghai, China and met with students and professors and attended a lecture on China’s Harmonious Society.

  • Cultural Exchange & Peace Building Programs: GSI develops programs with local organizations to promote peace and cultural exchange activities. Experiencing other cultures provides a rich and rewarding experience for all of the participants and sets the stage for cultivating friendships and opportunities for collaboration and social change. This program demonstrates GSI’s commitment to practicing socially and environmentally responsible tourism. Photographed outside of Guatemala City, the cultural exchange activities depicted on the "Social Venture Program website page, were conducted at a local primary school and provided a remarkable experience for all of the participants. Cultural performances and a mural painting project were co-created by the students and visitors. A Moroccan student commented, “It’s an amazing experience when you learn about yourself, other people and build lasting friendships.”

  • Service Projects: An important element of GSI’s global leadership program is service and stewardship. Working with local NGOs, participants have an opportunity to learn about global issues, local conditions and work on short- and long-term projects in service to an organization or local community. GSI has collaborated with Rotary International and other organizations to develop meaningful projects for participants. 


Independent Travel Program

Depending on the itinerary, students also have an opportunity to travel independently. This provides them with an opportunity to investigate places of interest. Many students use this time to do research, search out service opportunities, and develop creative projects. It also provides a break from the intensity of the program and the onboard community. Responsible travel and tourism is emphasized throughout the program. After each port visit, students share their photographs and stories in the regularly scheduled evening event, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” These photographs are often shared on Facebook and later incorporated into a book or CD created by a team of students highlighting the program experience. The editors wrote, “Working on collecting our experience between two covers has been a great challenge, and we feel proud to have created a way to preserve a life-changing experience for so many.” 


Global Scholars Program

Throughout the program, GSI hosts global scholars, journalists, scientists, artists and leaders to conduct seminars and provide mentoring to the students. Global Scholars also participate in classes and the academic field programs and share their experiences and perspectives on global issues and career-related opportunities. Representatives from the United Nations, ASEAN, UK National Oceanography Center, Swedish Government’s Human Rights Institute, Guatemala’s Ministry of Education, The Bangkok Post, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Health, Economics and AIDS Research Division are among the guests who have contributed to the knowledge community. 


Multinational Faculty & Staff

Under the direction of the GSI’s executive team, the transnational faculty and staff are skilled in their fields and experienced in international higher education. An academic resource team, including a learning coordinator, librarian and student services professionals, supports them. A graduate student from Mexico commented, “being on the ship has been the most amazing experience of my life. To travel around the world with professors who are experts in their field, and participate in classes with such intelligent and different people has been completely engaging.” 


Mentoring Program

Faculty and global scholars work closely with students to discuss their academic and research interests and career plans. The onboard staff also provides leadership training in student governance and conflict resolution. A Swedish graduate student remarked, “I have never lived in a community where I feel I can go and interact with people from all over the world, even though we didn’t speak the same language.”


Social Venture Work Program

Creating a social venture project is an integral part of the semester-long program. With an infusion of human capital, fresh ideas and a new perspective, these innovative projects will provide students with an opportunity to develop launch a new start-up business, strengthen community organizations, and drive positive social change in the world. Working with faculty mentors, students will develop teams to promote and launch their project at the end of the program.

For example, a social entrepreneurial project (e.g. poverty alleviation through an energy, housing, education or health program), a project for a local NGO (e.g. a literacy or cultural understanding program), or a significant research program (e.g. comparative study of the impact of the Clean Cookstove Project across emerging economies visited in the program).


Details about the program and securing funding opportunities for projects are under development at this time.

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