CSU hospitality management professor brings global perspective to Semester at Sea

Soo Kang, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University

At each start of a new semester, a select number of students and faculty have an incredible opportunity to participate the unique study abroad program: Semester at Sea. The program, which has been active for more than 50 years, offers students a unique global learning experience sailing around the world on a shipboard campus. SAS now calls Fort Collins home since launching a new academic partnership with Colorado State University in 2016.

This year, in partnership with CSU, Semester at Sea welcomes a new program aboard: hospitality management. Soo Kang, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, is this semester’s representative, and was happy to share more about Semester at Sea and her role within the program.

Give us an idea on who is aboard. Who will you be with? 

This semester, there are 564 undergraduate students aboard. About 10 percent of these students are international. Along with these students is a number of faculty and field experts who teach the classes and help students with their studies. Semester at Sea offers a wide variety of classes ranging from business to biology, to tourism and English writing. The ship itself acts like a campus going from port to port. There are classes just about every day as we are sailing.

Where are you going? What will you and the students be doing during this time?

Soo Kang and her students pose for a group photo during one of their field trips.We are visiting 13 different cities in 11 countries on four different continents within 106-day period. We will depart from Bremerhaven, Germany, and disembark at San Diego, California. Once we arrive at each port, students will have the opportunity to explore, but they also must participate in a global study tours and field trips. These are comparative studies that compare their field in different international settings. Students usually take three or four classes including Global Study, which is a comprehensive intercultural course.

While we are at sea, I’ll teach three classes and will lead several class field trips once we dock in Shanghai, China, Port Louis, Mauritius and Hawaii. There, we will actually see what is happening in our field so that we can infuse and combine our knowledge and experiences.

What do you believe students can pull from the Semester at Sea compared to a traditional classroom setting?

One of the perks with Semester at Sea is that students will have to the opportunity to learn first-hand what is going on globally within their field. The significant parts of the program, of course, is the travel side of it. So, for instance, when I take the students out, they will be applying the concepts and ideas they learned from class directly to a real-world setting rather than just having these ideas lectured to them.

As an instructor, what are your goals for the students?

Soo Kang with her students aboard the mobile campus.

Personally, I want them to see the dynamic the industry holds and how it changes from country to country. The United States and how its system operates is vastly different from the ones in other countries. There are different laws, less resources and different cultures. I want them to see that there are issues and downsides to each aspect the industry holds. But I also want them to think how they can potentially find solutions to these problems and make it more beneficial for everyone.

The Hospitality Management program is part of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.