Peace Boat’s 88th Global Voyage: “Sailing 4 Sustainability & Social Innovation” Julie Markham and Design Thinking

markham1Julie Markham, a guest speaker onboard Peace Boat, joined the ship as part of the “Sailing 4 Sustainability and Social Innovation” program, traveling from Mexico to Belize and Panama during the Latin American segment of Peace Boat’s 88th Global Voyage. Onboard, she participated in various lectures and gave a workshop to introduce participants to design-thinking and the approach to social innovation from the Unreasonable Group. The term “Design Thinking”, she explained, is an innovative way to view problem solving, and consists of five main steps: first empathize, next define, then ideate, then create a prototype, and finally test. Design-thinking begins with a final goal in mind rather than the problem at hand, she noted. In this way, design-thinking is different from empirical sciences and psychological sciences. Whereas empirical sciences focus on the natural world and psychological sciences focus on the world through human experience, design-thinking’s characteristics weigh heavily on a constructed world. Those who practice design-thinking must be innovative, practical, ingenious, and empathetic.

Markham is a prime example of all of these qualities, having served as the Director of Special Operations at the Unreasonable Group. The Unreasonable Group is a for-profit organization that aims to help entrepreneurs expand upon their current resources while working with others to create new strategies to help those from developing and other countries in need. Unreasonable Group has other subsidiary companies that include Unreasonable Media, Unreasonable@Sea, Unreasonable Capital and Unreasonable Institute, all entities that co-exist to build a strong entrepreneurial eco-system. She joined Peace Boat’s ship as it traveled through Latin America and participated in a Peace Boat US sustainable development project that helped support a women’s fair trade project, and build safe walkways and lavatories for a Kuna indigenous community in Panama. The 88th Global Voyage marked Peace Boat’s tenth year in partnership with the community.

Markham2Peace Boat is currently working towards building a new partnership with Unreasonable at Sea and Julie Markham was invited onboard to consider the ship as a possible new venue for upcoming programs. Founded in 2013 through a collaboration between the Unreasonable Group and the Semester at Sea program, Unreasonable at Sea’s first voyage members consisted of upcoming entrepreneurs from 10 different countries, 20 veteran entrepreneurs that acted as mentors during the voyage, and 600 college students sailing abroad as part of the Semester at Sea program. The program took place over a span of 100 days and visited 14 countries in total.

markham3In addition to her work with the Unreasonable Group, Markham is also the creator of Curious™, a search engine that operates via SMS. Curious™ was designed by Markham to supply those unable to access conventional internet servers with answers to questions they may have about various topics. Markham recently also founded pingWHEN™, a personal safety app that sends automated SMS messages when you arrive–or more importantly, do not arrive–at your intended destination. Markham believes that technology can be used for women’s safety and empowerment.

We had the opportunity to interview Markham about her experience aboard Peace Boat’s 88th Voyage. Below are some of the questions and answers we exchanged.

markham41) What was your most memorable experience on the Peace Boat and why? 

“Before our group embarked on the Peace Boat, we spent the mo
rning painting a mural in Cozumel, Mexico. Through the help of local artists, we designed a mural that represented the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As we finished the masterpiece some of the local business

owners commented they felt inspired looking at this new peace of artwork, stating that is represented the change we all hope to bring about in the world. This marked a very memorable moment because we were able to create a visualize representation of the peace and goodwill that we wanted to have in the world. This set the momentum for an incredible experience on the Peace Boat where we interacted with other changemakers, activists, and local community members on the boat and in Belize and Panama.

markham52) Would you recommend young people and social entrepreneurs to join the Peace Boat and why?

“Joining on the Peace Boat is an incredible opportunity to be surrounded by a community that believes deeply in global peace and justice. As a participant, you will have exposure to a variety of global leaders and changemakers such as talented musicians, activists, and founders of non-profits and social organizations that come onboard the ship. Further, you can’t learn about the global problems of the world – unless you are out in the world. There is a unique itinerary of the Peace Boat and you will have access to places you might never visit on your own. Plus, with all of the activities that they set up, it will be fully immersive. There is no doubt in my mind, any participant who leaves the Peace Boat will have a greater empathy and understanding of the world’s greatest challenges, and will feel inspired that they can make a difference. If you have the chance to join the Peace Boat … don’t delay … just do it! You won’t regret this life-changing experience.”

3) What are you looking forward to about the Peace Boat Eco ship project? 

“Unreasonable Group is on a mission to find the world’s most talented entrepreneurs and give them the resources to scale. As we look at the future, we recognize the importance to nurture and grow the highest environmental practices. There is no doubt in our minds that with the ambitious and strong commitment of the Peace Boat’s Eco Ship Project that they will stand at the forefront of environmental sustainability with lessons learned that can be shared across the world. Unreasonable would love a partnership with the Eco Ship so we can help the world live a more sustainable lifestyle, and scale these ideas together globally.”

Here is a video that captures some of the work Peace Boat took part in while visiting to indigenous Kuna community in Panama.

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