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A working vacation for SSU professor

Sonoma State professor Rocky Roh-wedder is going to spend his summer cruising in the Mediterranean, stopping in exotic ports of call in such places as Italy, Croatia, Egypt and Morocco.

But it's no typical summer vacation.

Along the way, he'll be studying and teaching about sustainable communities and energy technology, examining the carbon footprints of Turkish towns and comparing U.S. energy policy with its counterpart in Bulgaria.

Rohwedder is making his second voyage with Semester at Sea, a study abroad program affiliated with the University of Virginia that sends about 700 undergraduate college students on journeys around the globe to get a first-hand look at communities they study aboard the ship.

"In Istanbul, Turkey, this summer, we are going to see some car-free city zones, so I'm working with a professor that is in Istanbul and she will host us and guide us a little bit," Rohwedder said.

The MV Explorer departs from Halifax, Canada, on June 16 and returns to Norfolk, Virginia, Aug. 22. Stops include Spain, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.

During the stops students are required to do independent study but also have time for independent travel.

"Twenty percent of what they do in every course is field work," said Lauren Heinz, spokeswoman for Semester at Sea.

It may sound like an odd arrangement, boarding a cruise liner with 700 students who have paid a minimum of $11,000 to travel the globe for the summer to study human rights and social justice, the theme of this summer's trip.

But Rohwedder said the experience is profound and academically and emotionally intense. He participated in a Semester at Sea program in 2007 with Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu who was a distinguished lecturer in residence.


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