Building Empathy and Global Perspectives at Sea with Scott Marshall
September 21, 2021
Building Empathy and Global Perspectives at Sea with Scott Marshall

The internet allows us to live in a more connected, global community. However it’s one thing to read about other cultures and something else entirely to experience it personally…no matter what your age.

This week on the podcast I’m chatting with Scott Marshall of Semester at Sea about the life-changing experience of not just studying abroad but also learning about the culture and history of multiple countries and destinations. (And Semester at Sea isn’t just for youth; there’s a lifelong learner program, too!)

Learning about other cultures helps to bridge the gap across oceans and countrysides and helps us to become more empathic. Scott has found that the way his program is structured changes the brain chemistry as it allows participants to test biases and reflect on themselves–before, during, and after travel. 

This is such an interesting conversation and I’ll bet that you’ll be looking up the next Semester at Sea program before you’re done listening!


About Scott Marshall

In Scott’s role as the President and CEO, he is responsible for the overall strategic direction and financial well-being of the Institute for Shipboard Education and the Semester at Sea program.  He works to advance the mission of Semester at Sea and ensure sustainable revenue in partnership with the Senior Leadership Team (Advancement, Academics, Finance & Accounting, Human Resources, Marketing & Communications and Operations & Risk Management), the over 70,000 Semester at Sea alumni and the ISE Board of Trustees.  Scott collaborates closely with Colorado State University, the Academic Partner to Semester at Sea, and stewards strong support for the philanthropic community.

Prior to the position of President and CEO, Scott served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at ISE/Semester at Sea and various leadership roles at Portland State University, including Vice Provost for Academic and Fiscal Planning and Interim Dean and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs in the School of Business.  Scott earned his Ph.D. in International Business from the University of Oregon, a Master of International Affairs from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics from Willamette University.



Jump Through the Conversation

  • [2:08] Importance of study abroad

  • [5:42] Get lost to understand yourself

  • [8:16] Origins of Semester at Sea (SES) and what a semester at sea looks like

  • [10:00] What brought Scott to this program

  • [10:22] This is the optimal design of study abroad

  • [12:47] Success of reluctant participants

  • [14:15] SES learning experiences

  • [17:23] Outcomes of Semester at Sea

  • [20:03] What’s next for Semester at Sea

  • [24:19] How Semester at Sea can help different generations

  • [29:23] Turbo Time

  • [36:43] Scott’s magic wand

  • [40:36] Maureen’s takeaways


Links and Resources:

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.



Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:03  

Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely Committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  0:49  

If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:08  

Hi, Scott. So good to have you today. 


Scott Marshall  1:11  

It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Maureen. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:14  

And listeners. Today I’m chatting with Dr. Scott Marshall, the President and CEO of Semester at Sea, a ship based multi-country study abroad program affiliated with Colorado State University. With our world changing quickly and the need to question our views and social constructs. I’m mesmerized by the scope of the FCS program, and the lasting impact it has on learners of all ages. So let’s hear how Scott and SBS make this happen.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  1:46  

I want to step back a bit. It’s so fun getting to know you, because you and I both studied abroad in college and had our life trajectories changed as a result? Can you start out by telling us why international study is so important to you?


Scott Marshall  2:03  

Absolutely. There’s a number of reasons that it is important. In a very practical sense. We have strong evidence, not just Semester at Sea but other studies, that when people study abroad, their graduation rate goes up significantly, their likelihood to complete the graduate programs goes up significantly. We know that study abroad is one of the high impact practices. And as a result, students become transformed, for sure. But they also become clear on their own purpose and intention of completing a program and moving on in life in a more directed and clear way.


Scott Marshall  2:55  

Obviously, it does so much to how we think about our own home and the world. And that makes us genuinely more empathetic, better collaborators and more creative thinkers. So study abroad, in my view, is something that we need to further institutionalize at all levels of education.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  3:21  

I completely agree. And I think also you and I have done a good job of walking our talk. It’s easy to say Wouldn’t it be nice for college kids? But we’ve also both employed this practice with our own children and tell us what’s going on with your sophomore son right now?


Scott Marshall  3:39  

Yeah, so he is obviously in the fall semester sophomore year in high school. And during the tougher times of 2020, we started to look at what a future might look like if he were to study abroad. Clearly during 2020 That was difficult to imagine. But we really wanted to look at a future state for him. That would be exciting, inspirational. And he’d been studying the German language for about three and a half years. And so that seemed like a natural fit.


Scott Marshall  4:14  

So through my own professional networks, I started to reach out to individuals I knew who lived in Germany. Long story short. About five weeks ago, he got on a plane to SeaTac airport and flew to Bonn, Germany, where he is now at a homestay and he’s in a public high school, all German language. His brain is working overtime. He’s also having the most incredible experience and as you have said to me Maureen you will never be the same and that’s a good thing.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  4:48  

Yes. Wow. such courage not just to travel during a pandemic and travel at such a young age but to live with strangers and high school which is hard enough. your native language, taking it on in a foreign language knowing he’s not going to get every word. He’s learning new concepts, and not getting every word of it, and trusting that this is going to pay off and doing the hard work. That’s a lot for anybody, let alone a 15 year old, how’s he holding up?


Scott Marshall  5:19  

So I had a brief call with him yesterday. And it was evening where he is. And I can tell he’s both exhausted and exhilarated that his brain is working in overdrive. Every minute he’s at school, but he is truly realizing the value of what he’s doing.


Scott Marshall  5:44  

There’s a great quote that I love. It’s Henry David Thoreau, one of my favorite authors. He says, Not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves, not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves, and doesn’t have to be sophomore year in high school. But at some point in young adulthood, I strongly encourage people to find a way to safely get lost. Because that will help them find themselve, find that purpose, and really clarify what that future state is that they want to strive for.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  6:26  

I love that, you know, I have to interject, I am super directionally challenged. And when I raised my girls overseas phones didn’t have gps. And we were lost quite a bit. Signs in Hungarian didn’t really help me out a lot. And we just have the song that I’m not lost, I’m just exploring, life is an adventure worth enjoying. I may not know where I’m going, I’m not lost. I just explained we would sing that. So I wouldn’t go crazy and wouldn’t launch into profanities.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  6:54  

And truly lost means we get to explore when I know everything and where I’m going. I am so limited in my don’t get to use divergent thinking and I’m not open to new. So I think you’re right, how can we find yourself if we think we already have all the answers?


Scott Marshall  7:11  

Absolutely. Similarly, when I lived in Japan, which I did, the year after I graduated from college, I worked quite a lot. But when I was not working, I would oftentimes take a random train to a distant location in Tokyo, and then set my course to find my way home by phone.


Scott Marshall  7:33  

And my gosh, being in Japan, you know that there are very few street names. There’s bridges and tunnels and lots of organized layout that is completely different than what we’re used to in the United States. And that was just the same kind of logic, which is I’m kind of lost. And I don’t have GPS, but I’m gonna find my way. It’s a very empowering type of experience. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  8:08  

very empowering. So Scott, explained a bit about what your Semester at Sea looks like.


Scott Marshall  8:18  

You bet. The first thing I want to note, Maureen, is that the program really has its origins back to 1963. So it’s been around for over 50 years. It started at Chapman University as a program called class float. And it’s the same principle which is a ship is your campus. There will be faculty on the ship teaching courses. And you go to multiple countries to really embrace the cycle of theory and practice through experiential exposure in multiple countries.


Scott Marshall  8:55  

We are now and have been for many years, Semester at Sea. And we’ve held true to that purpose of exposing people over and over to multiple countries and using the ship as the home port as the campus in which courses are instructed. Today we again hold to that model. ship is our campus, the envy world Odyssey, a wonderful ship with classrooms, dining halls, a workout facility for large union, it is not a cruise ship. It is a learning ship. And therefore there are no Pacino’s right,


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  9:36  



Scott Marshall  9:37  

This is truly about a learning experience. And students go to eight to 10 different countries, they spend four to six days in each country. Overall, a voyage is about 105 days or so. And about half the time ends up being on a ship and about half the time is in country. So just the background on what brought me To this program. I’ve been a faculty member at another institution that was doing that for quite some time had led study abroad programs.


Scott Marshall  10:09  

Then I took a sabbatical. In 2017, my wife and two boys went on semester at sea, I served as a faculty member. And having done a number of study abroad programs, and then experience Semester at Sea I concluded that this, in fact, is the optimal design for study abroad because of the multi country comparative aspect. And we can dig into that more if you’d like.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  10:35  



Scott Marshall  10:37  

So, in terms of the comparative piece, here’s the principle. We all grow up in a certain setting, a home, a community, a state. And naturally, every human then comes up with some set of biases, and a fairly rigid mindset about how the world works. That’s not a bad thing. That’s just a statement of fact, that’s how it happens. That is the truth. That’s reality.


Scott Marshall  11:12  

And what happens to a young adult between the ages of let’s say, 17, to 23, that goes on semester at sea, they bring that mindset. And they get on the home campus, the MV world Odyssey, they begin their courses, they meet the community, and then they go to their first port, they spend between four to six days in that port.


Scott Marshall  11:34  

And that mindset that they brought at embarkation, gets tested in some way. They got to readjust a little bit. And then they get back on the ship of safe harbor. and reflect on that experience with their colleagues, the faculty, the staff.


Scott Marshall  11:54  

And then 567 days later, they hit another point, and they test again, then they come back, reflect, discuss, then they test again. And ultimately, in my mind, for what happens to people’s brains is they actually change the brain chemistry, this is the ability to really be open to change, how we think, and why we think the way we do.


Scott Marshall  12:21  

In today’s world, I’m not sure if there’s a more important trait than this idea of cognitive flexibility, the willingness to be open to change how we think. And then really test why we think the way we think


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  12:38  

that is so important in the reflection and the time to compare and to unpacked together. That is so powerful. So I’m sure you’ve had some reluctant or nervous participants. Do any stories come to mind?


Scott Marshall  12:53  

Sure, I was really fortunate to be in Seattle, your neck of the woods, about a month ago, and I met with an alumni of our program. She sailed, but 13, 14 years ago. And she, in fact, did not know anybody when she was ready to sign up for semester at sea. So she got on board, an individual of one, without friends, quite nervous, but also brave enough to get on board.


Scott Marshall  13:27  

And what she explained to me in simple terms is it did change her life in profound ways and positive words. So that when she got a job at the Gates Foundation, which has been doing now for 12 years, she does not want to leave because every day, she feels like she’s showing up to an organization that is trying to address some of the most important challenges the world faces. And that view, that commitment comes from our semesters experience


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  14:00  

That is so powerful. And now she’s a force for good because of that experience. I am a huge fan of experiential learning. And this is such an example of that. Can you share an sts learning experience or two with us?


Scott Marshall  14:15  

You bet. I’d like to reflect back on my own voice as a faculty member to give an example. So as part of every course that’s taught, there is what we call a field class, which is a one day experience required in one of the ports. So I taught three classes. I taught international business, entrepreneurship, and social entrepreneurship. So let’s go to that last course, social entrepreneurship.


Scott Marshall  14:44  

I had chosen the global chocolate industry as a frame for the course. We don’t need to go into the structure, the whole supply chain and how it works on their podcast Marine, but for anybody who’s interested, they really Should dive into it and understand how we get from cow bean to chocolate bar really important. With the chocolate industry is a frame imagine us departing our first port in San Diego.


Scott Marshall  15:16  

During the sale across civic I set the frame for the whole course with the students start to go into the theory. And then we were approaching Kobe Japan. And I tell him listen, all I want you to do in this port, this is not required. But what I like to do is go in and just see how chocolate is merchandised. This is the end of the supply chain understanding this country. And think about how it is similar and different from your own experience.


Scott Marshall  15:39  

So that’s the first sort of framing. Now fast forward, many ports in between farfield class is going to be in gone. And gone is the second largest producer of cow, the corn reading of chocolate in the world. Unfortunately, they only produce the cow and export the bean so that they don’t capture much time for what they’re producing. There is a company, Tony’s chuckle only that really wants to address this inequity in the supply chain.


Scott Marshall  16:13  

So we went to one of the plantations that they work with. And the students get off the ship, we get on a bus, we drive two and a half hours out of the capital the crawl, we go to a plantation where there’s families who work in the cocoa fields, cutting down the pods, extracting the seeds, drying them, bagging them and getting on the ship.


Scott Marshall  16:38  

And our students were there in the sweltering heat, figuring out how cacao beans are cut down, seeing how they’re opened and dried. This rocked their world. Now they understood the supply chain. Now they understand that the next time they go into any store in their home country and see a chocolate bar, or any kind of chocolate treat, they can connect it all and appreciate what it takes to get there. And that cannot be done in the classroom.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  17:13  

Absolutely, that’s why the world needs to be our classroom and learning needs to be 24. Seven our whole life because you can’t replicate that in a textbook or video. So it’s kind of there’s so much you’re doing with this program? What are some overall outcomes that you’re striving for overall with all of your students?


Scott Marshall  17:35  

I’m so glad you asked. So one of the things we’ve done in the past, and we’ll continue to do coming in the future is we’ve done a pre and post test with a global perspectives inventory. This is an instrument that looks at global perspectives, in terms of how people view the world, how they view others that are different than them. And there’s no surprise but we wanted to evidence that we see significant change in two key areas for our voyagers over the time of the voyage.


Scott Marshall  18:12  

Number one is empathy. That is their ability to understand and interpret the views of the other. And number two is, again not surprising their knowledge, their confidence in their knowledge of the other. Now if you combine these two, right Maureen, if you combine them, which is confidence and understanding and empathy, or willingness to understand, you actually have truly changed how these people will work in the world in a truly meaningful way.


Scott Marshall  18:50  

If I can give you one more example, we have an alum, his name is Skye Fitzgerald. He’s a documentary filmmaker. He sailed four times as a student then came on as a videographer twice and then came on as a spouse of a faculty member. And sky speaks so eloquently about the impact of a semester at sea experiences on his life and his work.


Scott Marshall  19:17  

Skye has recently finished a trilogy of documentaries that look at the humanitarian crisis in different environments. One focused on Syria, when on Libya and when on Yemen. The last two received Academy Award nominations, and the work is profound. And again, he can speak so well to what impact in terms of empathy and community and understanding that semester at sea had on his life’s work


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  19:51  

That is so powerful and you have to truly experience it to get on the inside to have that level of empathy. I would love it if we can get the links to that and share that in the show notes. That’s amazing. 


Scott Marshall  20:05  

Will do. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  20:06  

So Scott, what is next for you and your mission?


Scott Marshall  20:10  

Yes, so we actually, I’m so excited, we are actually in the middle of our strategic planning effort. And the first step of that was to create a findings report, which involved survey work with our board, and alumni leadership, and then group sessions with our staff.


Scott Marshall  20:32  

And then another broad interview set with this diverse set of external stakeholders that was brought together by our consultants, creating a findings report, that will then lead us into an all staff session at the end of September, where we really go from the findings report and vision to purpose.


Scott Marshall  20:56  

So we know we have a great mission to serve, creating inner connectedness in the world. But we also want clarity for future states for the organization and for the program. And this process is really directing us some of the findings that came from this is, again, no surprise, because these are prominent issues in the world. And they’re issues that we care about a lot. And we need to strive to improve how we do these things. This is a humble approach to who we are.


Scott Marshall  21:32  

Number one is, we want to commit to some way of elevating inclusion, equity and diversity within our program. In many ways we’ve done decently well, but in other ways, we have not done well enough. And we need to commit to raising that up within our own organization and our voice community.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  21:56  

That’s super powerful.


Scott Marshall  21:58  

Absolutely. And that is work that we have started with sincerity. But we need to really set important future benchmarks. And it’s not about just improving its aspiration, where should we really be, let’s not be as good as Let’s be better. And that’s what we’re going to strive to be. Another one very important for us is climate change. The science is clear.


Scott Marshall  22:28  

And the IP PPC recently released a report that shows we all need to be so thoughtful about this issue and play a proactive role. And so that is something that we need to be very thoughtful about. Now, we’ve done work around this, clearly, we do use a cruise ship as our home campus, and cruise ships use diesel engines. And so we need to be really thoughtful about our impact. 


Scott Marshall  22:55  

So we actually have worked with an alum to do carbon analysis, to really understand, we know that we’ve reduced the length of our voyage, we know we’ve improved the efficiency of the engines, we know that we were using low sulfur fuel, all those are reducing our carbon footprint. But we know we have to do better. 


Scott Marshall  23:17  

Again, it’s not about whether we will do good as we will do better than and so how do we set future benchmarks to drive that improvement. And then the last thing I would say that I know is going to be top of mind for everybody is resilience on multiple levels. This has been a term that’s been used a lot throughout 2020, and even into 2021. That is at the individual human level, and how we think about our own resilience. And so we need to think about the resilience of our staff, our leadership and our voyagers, we also need to be thinking about the resilience of the program in our institute. 


Scott Marshall  23:57  

So we really want to frame that around how we think about our programming, and how we think about our funding. So this is all great work for us. I’m super excited to get everybody together in a month, and go through all this so that we go from vision to purpose, and then purpose to action.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  24:17  

I love vision and purpose to action. So Scott, what would you recommend for Gap Year students for folks wanting a break, retirees, seekers of all ages? What could they be doing? And how can you help them?


Scott Marshall  24:32  

Thanks for asking Maureen. So first of all, to your point, one of the richest parts of a voyage is the multi generational aspect. faculty staff will bring their kids so we have, you know, the two to 16 year old, which is a wonderful aspect. And then as you pointed out, we have Gap Year students generally in the range of 17 to 18 year old and then we have our college age students. 


Scott Marshall  24:56  

And then we have our lifelong learners. And those are individuals who are 30 years plus who want to take a break from life, and go on what is truly an extraordinary learning experience, right? 


Scott Marshall  25:09  

So let’s start with this gap year audience, we actually have a gap year program specifically designed for that age. So they can take nine credits, which is less than a normal load. We started out as a cohort, we designed programming specifically for that audience, because this is their first exposure to college. And it may be their first exposure to significant travel. And they’re younger than the other college students. 


Scott Marshall  25:37  

So we want to set up a nice safe place for them to get to know each other, support each other. And then of course, immerse all the way through that community. And we love to work with this age, because their minds are so open, and ready to explore. And then of course, and if someone’s interested in the gap year program, we have advisors right here ready to work with them. And we have a gap year brochure we’ll send out to them, we’ll talk to their parents, because very often, of course, this is a parent who is very involved in that decision, right. 


Scott Marshall  26:15  

And then the college age population, there’s two ways to approach it. One is simply to contact us directly. Again, we have advisors ready to talk to them. But they also would want to talk to their study abroad office, their study abroad office is who we would work with directly on a campus so that if they’re at university San Diego, or Texas Christian or Ilan, or Ohio State, they get a sense that the credits, they’re going to earn our Colorado State University credits. So they’re accredited institutions, they’ve been through the governance process, these are legitimate credits that would transfer back to their home institution Once completed, right. 


Scott Marshall  26:59  

So working with their study abroad office is key. But they can contact us first just to get a sense of how it all works, and how the credits would transfer and so forth. And again, we have a great set of staff who work directly with those students. 


Scott Marshall  27:15  

And then the lifelong learner audience what a wonderful program, I still am in touch with lifelong learners from the voyage. I went on these ages really 30 Plus, oftentimes, more often than not, they’re 50 Plus, and they might come solo. And they might just say, I’m ready for an adventure, I’m retired. And this is perfect for me, because I love that college atmosphere where learning is paramount and experience is embedded. Or could be some professional who is granted a sabbatical from their work based on time, served at that company, and they bring their family and they have this amazing three and a half months experience. 


Scott Marshall  28:00  

We have two types of lifelong learning, the sense that some can take the full voyage, the full three and a half months, and we also have spotlight voyagers who would come on for a month. And again, just a tremendously wonderful part of the experience for everybody.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  28:16  

Love that you have so many options, and especially the cohort for the younger kids, so that they’re connected, and shorter chunks so that families and sabbatical folks can take advantage of it.


Scott Marshall  28:26  

Absolutely, absolutely. We really, we really treasure that multi generational aspect. We always can think about the wisdom that we gained from our elders, I wouldn’t say the American culture does a great job treasuring that necessarily, but I think everybody had an opportunity to learn some wisdom from those who are older, more experienced. And to see that embedded in a shipboard campus like this. For three and a half months, those connections live far beyond the voyage itself. I know many lifelong learners who continue to serve as informal mentors for college students who have not graduated and are exploring their careers.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  29:14  

I love that that gives us a taste of multigenerational that a lot of cultures get, Scott, it’s loaded with options. And now I want to pivot and get to know you as the person behind Semester at Sea with some turbo time questions. So could you tell us the last book you read?


Scott Marshall  29:32  

Yeah, actually, the last book I read, for me, is called the storytelling animal by Jonathan gottschall. And I tend to read in themes. And the theme I really focused on recently was storytelling, as something that is embedded in human existence, from you know, hundreds of 1000s of years that this has been core to who we are and why. Why essentially fiction, as a very powerful means for understanding who we are, and conveying that knowledge for. So I really enjoyed that.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  30:10  

I love that. I read a story where they recently and it was so powerful. Just think about what goes into a story and, and story is how we connect and have forever. So I’m glad that that’s a really important topic right now. I think that connects us. Yes, it sure does. How about two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?


Scott Marshall  30:32  

So there’s two people who I don’t know. And I’m not going to pick people who maybe are more common, or world famous, although they’re becoming quite well known. But it’s, I’m picking them because of how they communicate important issues to millennials and younger generations. 


Scott Marshall  30:54  

So the first one is Tayo Rockson. And tail doesn’t know me, but I do follow his work and see what he does. He’s a third country kid. That’s what he refers to himself. And his whole mantra is use your difference to make a difference. What a powerful way to explore his own identity and bring that identity to others. I would love to meet him at some point in time. So hopefully, this gives me an avenue to connect with him. 


Scott Marshall  31:24  

The second person again, an individual that doesn’t know me, but I still appreciate her work is Abby Ingleman. Abby is the founder of 3d See, that’s the number three, the letter D and then Sea, SEA. She’s been a nat geo Explorer. She’s a marine conservationist and a coral ecologist. And what he’s done is found a way to communicate what’s going on in the sea, visually, their 3d technology that really brings the ocean to life for people who maybe haven’t been interested or just haven’t had the chance to go and really understand it. 


Scott Marshall  32:05  

And that’s what we need. We need people who live in the mountain region of the United States to be able to connect themselves to the ocean in a powerful way. It is our long, it is our well of carbon. It is the source of all food. It is so extraordinary. And unfortunately, it’s been tragically mistreated. And we need to bring that to bear.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  32:30  

That’s amazing. I’d love to see her work. I used to scuba dive and I have such an appreciation, but such a limited understanding of what all I was seeing that this would be super powerful. Another question: you are a world traveler, but what is your favorite place to travel or maybe on your bucket list a place you want to travel?


Scott Marshall  32:51  

So yes, I’ve been to so many countries and appreciate everything about each place I’ve been that it’s really not possible to pick one country to go to, I have many favorite places I can tell you where I’m at peace the most is strangely, it’s actually in the mountains. I love the ocean. And I love to be on the ocean. 


Scott Marshall  33:17  

But it’s when I am at altitude where the only sounds we hear are birds or the wind. And I get into my flow. That’s where I find the greatest peace. I have been in the mountains and many different environments with a few others who similarly get into a flow in that environment. And that is the best I could ever ask for. 


Scott Marshall  33:45  

Now a bucket list item then would be doing a small group hike up the Inca Trail, for example. I would like to do it without the masses if I could avoid that at all. But just moving through that area. So I get the history. I get the nature and culture with a few others.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:05  

I love that. What’s one TED talk that inspires you,


Scott Marshall  34:10  

Sylvia Earle 2009. Silver, Sylvia Earle in my mind is the godmother of ocean conservation and care. And now 12 years past, it still is a very important TED Talk, to be shared in classrooms to be watched at night with family, she does a phenomenal job of really explaining why we need to care for this part of our Earth.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  34:38  

What’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about study abroad?


Scott Marshall  34:43  

That is what will help in like no other to clarify one’s purpose, that there is nothing like immersing themselves into an alternate way of living that helps them define how they want to live?


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  35:01  

I love that because it takes contrast to gain clarity. That makes perfect sense. That’s so well said. What about a pet peeve of yours?


Scott Marshall  35:12  

Oh, gosh, if I could I mean two, one is tailgating when driving, and the other one is littering. Here’s the simple principle behind those two. Both of them endanger people or the planet. And they’re actually really easy to not do. Really easy. So easy.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  35:36  

Absolutely, yeah. These are not big, big things. Yeah, it takes a little thoughtfulness. I agree. What’s one passion you bring to Semester at Sea, Scott?


Scott Marshall  35:48  

My passion is idealistically world peace. Now, if we back away from that, and understand that humanity has rarely experienced world peace, and simply say that in balance, and balance, the world would be better off with greater understanding of the other than everyone will be better off. And so my passion is to always be part of what connects people across the planet.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  36:25  

That is so eloquent and powerful. I love it. And yes, understanding we can all be working toward that world peace. Thank you. That’s beautiful. I like to wrap up with a magic wand question. And Scott, higher edge like high schools, very prescriptive seat time and required courses prevail. If you had a magic wand, what would you wish to allow our higher education system to more fully serve, learning and all learners?


Scott Marshall  36:57  

Maureen, this goes along with what I interpret as the core of your work, that we focus on quality, rather than quantity, and outcomes. Rather than work that we have to get our heads wrapped around what it is we’re trying to seek for those we serve. 


Scott Marshall  37:23  

And I spent a long time in higher ed, and just like high school, middle school, that seat time, has very little correlation. With satisfaction in life, we’ve got to find ways to move beyond that. I understand very well, why seat time is institutionalized, why contact hours are institutionalized. I understand that it’s embedded fully when we talk about contact hours, financial aid, textbook design, syllabus, design, faculty contracts, it’s completely institutionalized. 


Scott Marshall  38:06  

And that is very difficult to move. And I applaud you for your commitment to rethink that system and move us to a system that really drives individuals and the satisfaction that we want them to realize in life. It’s hard work. And so I want to again, call out you for your commitment to this effort. And there are others who are your colleagues and allies in this work. 


Scott Marshall  38:33  

And yet, we still are living in that institution. And so how do we find the pathway through this? There’s another quote, I have to read it because I can’t remember verbatim. It’s by Joseph Campbell, Joseph Campbell, of course, is associated with the power myth. And he says, Now, is the system going to eat you up and relieve you of your humanity? Or are you going to be able to use the system to human purposes? 


Scott Marshall  39:03  

So I’ve listened to many of your podcasts. And you’ve definitely talked to individuals in neuroscience and institutional logic that we can’t just batter heads against. It’s not about beating it down. It’s about trying to find a way to work within the system to change the system.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  39:28  

I so appreciate what you’re saying. Yes. And there are little ways we can be doing that. And semester at sea is a big way and looking at outcomes makes so much more sense which means shuffling that means formative assessment adjusting as we go and not just end of semester tests and giving a grade. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  39:50  

But looking at are we meeting the objectives? How do I shift as a teacher? What do I do more or less of? Thank you. Yes, it’s definitely going to take baby steps, but we don’t have to be about what’s measurable and easy and familiar. We can be about what’s going to get us that quality, and what’s going to get us those outcomes. Thank you. That is such an awesome magic wand. Scott. 


Scott Marshall  40:16  

Glad to contribute. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  40:18  

And thank you for joining us today. I really appreciate all you’re doing with Semester at Sea, and world peace.


Scott Marshall  40:26  

Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure Marine, keep up the good work.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  40:29  

Thank you.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  40:39  

Scott, and I share this passion for having the world as our classroom, and lifelong learning happening in this setting. Empathy is such an important attribute to foster in our students. When we experience contrast, we start to become aware of other viewpoints and ways of doing things and it helps us reflect and think about why do I do what I do, and just stretch and grow. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  41:09  

A wonky thing I remember from my college study abroad, was that there were many ways that women curl their eyelashes. folks in other countries that are a little crimp tool was really bizarre. I also remember having to figure out how many cheek kisses each culture had. It was one chicken hungry in Latin America, and three in the least, and then I had to get the sequence correct. So we didn’t end up nose jousting. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  41:41  

So there’s so much out there that we can be exposed to. And I came away with an awareness that quite often, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. There were times I would just say, what else should I know? Or what questions should I be asking? It’s humbling and expansive to be exposed to so many ways of existing. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  42:05  

Scott’s powerful quote by Henry David Thoreau, not until we are lost, do we begin to understand ourselves speaks to this. Sometimes it’s difficult to quantify educational experiences. Scott’s use of the global perspective inventory used by almost 200 colleges and educational institutions, allows SGS to assess the global learning and their education abroad experience. This inventory is linked in the show notes. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  42:39  

They get to see the increases in empathy they achieve as well as how students gain knowledge of others and increase their confidence in new situations. All of these are vital skills that happen much more readily in the study abroad arena. And it’s no surprise that SBS is studying their vision and purpose. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  43:03  

This self study practice is foundational in progressive organizations. Clarifying the mission is the first step of my microscope handbook. We need a clear purpose and roadmap if we want to move forward. Creating interconnectedness in the world is such a powerful vision, elevating equity, inclusion and diversity and sex is also very important. Tackling their carbon footprint with climate change awareness and building resilience around their vision. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  43:36  

Boy is such a thoughtful and holistic approach to what the FCS is about. Interval time I always love learning what people are up to. I’ve included a New York Times article on Scott’s recent read about the storytelling animal and how stories make us human. Interesting that the article unpacks that we spend more time in fictional worlds than the real one. As the author gottschall puts it, Neverland is our evolutionary niche, our special habitat. Check out the article and book for more fun insights. 


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  44:17  

Bottom line from this conversation, seat time won’t cut it. Straight classroom learning doesn’t help us become the kind of humans The world needs. Taking time to learn from other perspectives and cultures can make us all more empathetic, creative and collaborative. And it’s just plain fun. Scott’s passion for world peace shines through in this interview. Here’s to Semester at Sea and others who are creating bridges and interconnections on our planet. Thank you for joining the education evolution.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  45:08  

I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years traveling working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me on how much schools were able to get them with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your school, or to start a new school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together.


Maureen O’Shaughnessy  45:52  

Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you let’s go out and reach every student today. Leaving a rating and review for this podcast lets others know that you find it a value and it gets in the earbuds of more educational leaders like you. Thank you listeners, signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.


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