Sandra Day O'Connor, Julian Bond to Tackle Critical Issues Aboard Semester at Sea's Forum on Global Engagement

June 2, 2010 — Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and civil rights icon Julian Bond, a University of Virginia history professor, will join notable historians, activists and global thought-leaders to address some of today's most critical issues as part of the upcoming Forum on Global Engagement, Semester at Sea's four-day voyage examining international issues.

Joining O'Connor and Bond will be Gerald Baliles, former Virginia governor and now director of U.Va.'s Miller Center of Public Affairs, and British education policy expert Sir Christopher Ball, who spoke at U.Va. last fall at the invitation of Gowher Rizvi, U.Va. vice provost for international programs.

Together with invited participants, they will explore today's most pressing global challenges, including education, human rights, social justice, health and sustainability. The forum's theme is "Exploring Insights and Challenges in the New Decade."

The four-day event, June 10 to 14, will take place aboard the MV Explorer, the state-of-the-art ship that serves as the floating campus for the Semester at Sea global study program. Each year, it circumnavigates the globe with hundreds of college students, exposing them to cultures, histories and politics of countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean.

The forum also will give participants the experience of life aboard a floating university, complete with a library, computer center, common hall and nine classrooms. U.Va. is the academic sponsor of the Charlottesville-based Semester at Sea program.

"One of the core missions of Semester at Sea is to educate individuals with the global understanding necessary to address the challenges of our interdependent world," said Les McCabe, president of the Institute for Shipboard Education and Semester at Sea. "The Forum on Global Engagement exemplifies this mission in an intensive and thought-provoking environment of concerned citizens."

During the forum, participants will sail along the Atlantic coast from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Nova Scotia, Canada, and will have the rare opportunity for one-on-one discussions with these distinguished leaders.   

"In an era of globalization, is it enough to prepare students to be good citizens of our country or good citizens of the world?" Ball said. "This is a challenge we must consider: to think about educating not just good Americans, but good human beings. This forum and the program in general provide such an opportunity for exploration and that approach to education."

Previous forums have hosted such luminaries as Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jessica Jackley, a Semester at Sea alumna and founder of the micro-lending organization KIVA.

For information about the Forum on Global Engagement's keynote speakers and program details, visit the Semester at Sea website.

About Semester at Sea
Semester at Sea is a premier global education abroad program based in the United States. Since it began in 1963, more than 55,000 college students and lifelong learners have participated in the program, which travels more than 60,000 nautical miles around the world each year. The University of Virginia, the program's academic sponsor, provides transferable college credits. Over its 47-year history, Semester at Sea has made 101 voyages that have included groundbreaking visits to countries such as the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cuba and Myanmar. Participants have met with prominent leaders, including Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat, Indira Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, Corazon Aquino, Sidi Mohammed, Mother Teresa, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.