August 24, 2010 — Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu is sailing around the world with Semester at Sea this fall with more than 600 college students and a 35-member faculty appointed by the University of Virginia.
Tutu, 78, serving as senior statesman in residence, will help launch the first Desmond Tutu Distinguished Chair in Global Understanding, a program established to honor his lifelong contributions to global awareness and intercultural understanding.
"I have had the good fortune to be a small part of a wonderful experiment in education called Semester at Sea," said Tutu, who received the Nobel in 1984 for his work to end apartheid in South Africa. "The mission of this grand experiment has been to foster greater intercultural understanding by exposing its participants – young and old, students and faculty – to people and cultures around the world, while providing them with a sea-going classroom in which to study and absorb what they've seen and learned."
Semester at Sea, based in Charlottesville, is the oldest shipboard comparative education program in the world. U.Va. is the program's academic sponsor.
Tutu will board the MV Explorer, the 590-foot passenger ship that serves as Semester at Sea's floating university, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Friday and travel to Cadiz, Spain; Casablanca, Morocco; Takoradi, Ghana; Cape Town, South Africa; Port Louis, Mauritius; Chennai, India; Singapore; Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam; Hong Kong / Shanghai, China; Yokohama / Kobe, Japan; and Honolulu / Hilo, Hawaii, before returning to San Diego on Dec. 13.
During his more than 100-day journey, Tutu will lecture in the requisite Global Studies course, facilitate a reflection and discussion session after the community's stop in South Africa, and introduce colleague and long-time acquaintance Judith A. Mayotte as the inaugural Distinguished Chair in Global Understanding.
"Given the critical role South Africa has played for years as an important destination on Semester at Sea's voyages of discovery, having Nobel laureate Tutu on board the fall voyage represents an unparalleled opportunity for our participants," said Les McCabe, president of the Institute for Shipboard Education, the nonprofit organization that administers the Semester at Sea program.
This will be the second time Tutu has participated in an entire voyage. He sailed on the spring 2007 voyage, partial voyages in 1984 and 2005, and met with students in Cape Town on other occasions. He is a member of the institute's Board of Trustees.
Semester at Sea offers four academic voyages each year: 100-day voyages in the fall and spring terms travel all the way around the world; summer voyages focus on a world region and last 65 days; and a new short-term voyage offers an interdisciplinary approach to a central theme, such as engineering.
Participants, who hail from more than 280 U.S. and international universities, circumnavigate the globe aboard the 24,300-ton campus of the MV Explorer, attend classes in a closely knit environment with an international faculty, complete field work and travel while in port, and earn course credit through U.Va.
For information, visit the Semester at Sea website or call 434-243-4055.