Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dan and Pat: From Montana to Semester at Sea!

 Monday, August 15, 2011:  We are only three days away from flying to Boston where we will board the MV Explorer, Semester at Sea’s ship (, on Saturday.  We will sail for Montreal where we will meet the students next week, and we’ll leave Montreal for Casablanca, Morocco, on August 26th.  For a copy of our itinerary and map, check out this URL:

We began planning for this sabbatical leave with Semester at Sea over a year ago, and it is hard to believe that it is now almost here!  We’ll both be working with classes during the semester: Dan will be teaching “globalized” versions of three of his Environmental Studies courses he teaches regularly at the University of Montana: Globalization, Justice and the Environment; The Greening of Religion: Religion, Nature and the Environment; and Nature and Society.  Pat will be the Teaching Assistant for the one required course that all 700 SAS students will be taking, “Global Studies,” which will focus on the intersection of Globalization and Development.

Semester at Sea is set up so that roughly half the days during the semester we are at sea, and the other half are in the different countries we visit.  We teach our courses while at sea, and are largely free to do other activities while we are in port.  Here’s our itinerary:

            EMBARK: Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Aug 26
            Casablanca, Morocco: Sept 3-6
            Tema, (Accra), Ghana: Sept 13-16
            Cape Town, South Africa: Sept 23-28
            Port Louis, Mauritius: Oct 4
            Chennai, India: Oct 10-15
            Penang, Malaysia: Oct 19-21
            Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam: Oct 25-31
            Hong Kong / Shanghai, China: Nov 3-8
            Kobe / Yokohama, Japan: Nov 11-15
            Hilo, Hawaii, USA: Nov 24 (Thanksgiving!)
            Puntarenas, Costa Rica: Dec 4-5
            Traverse Panama Canal:  Dec 7
            Havana, Cuba: Dec 9-11
            DEBARK: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA: Dec 13

I will also be organizing and leading 7 one-day field trips that relate to themes in my classes.  It has been fun (interesting!) trying to organize these from afar, and I am excited to see how they actually play out.  Here are the 7 field trips I’ll be leading:

Ghana: Visit the Akosombo Dam & Shai Hills Nature Reserve
Ghana: Christianity and Islam in West Africa
Capetown, South Africa: Religious Responses to Climate Change in South Africa
Penang, Malaysia: Indigenous Industries near Penang
Ho Chi Minh City: Climate Change in Vietnam & Mekong Delta
Hong Kong & Shenzhen, China: Labor & Environmental Issues in Chinese Factory Zones
Okolona, Japan: Zen Temple and Meditation Led by Zen Monks

While in most of the countries we visit, Pat and I will travel on our own, we are hoping to do 4 organized Semester at Sea field trips.  In Morocco, we’ll travel to Marrakech, Berber villages, and the Atlas Mountains.  In India, we hope to fly from Chennai (Madras) where we dock to Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal) and the sacred city of Varanasi.  While in Vietnam we’ll travel to Cambodia to visit Phnom Penh and the Temples at Angkor Wat.  And from Hong Kong we’ll spend several days in Beijing and have a chance to get to the Great Wall.

On this blog I hope to be able to share with you much of what we are experiencing and learning during the next 4 months.  I am particularly interested in the intersection between Globalization and Climate Change, and since we’ll arrive at each of the 14 countries by ship at major ports, at the very least predictions of rising sea levels in response to climate change should be relevant – and in fact have already been documented in some places.  But I hope and suspect we will learn about much more than this, and issues at the intersection of social justice and environmental sustainability should take on a whole new face.

I hope you will enjoy accompanying me and Pat on this journey through this blog, and that it will stimulate your own interest in the places and peoples we will encounter.  Three more days and we are off!


  1. "Happy Trails" Dan and Pat! We will follow you with enthusiasm!

    Stu, Patty and Katy

  2. Oh, how I wish I was going with you! What a lucky bunch of students to have you and Pat as mentors as you all travel the world together. Safe and adventurous travels to you all. Love, Jess Babcock

  3. We'll be following along, wishing we were there adventuring with you! Will you be able to receive mail at any point? Much love, Katie and Dave

  4. Your ship is coming in. I am sure you will have a wonderful experience and your students too. Sail safely and thanks for keeping us all posted. Jean