SeaState’s Mission is to create study abroad programs that combine unique and dynamic course instruction and community engagement with immersion in coastal communities. The goal being to build cultural awareness, environmental stewardship, and practical skills for our alumni to take with them into OUR globalized world.

What we do…

We take students surfing with purpose! We believe that surfing and learning to surf open people up for connecting with nature and cultures around the world, as well as, with one another. In all of our unique and accredited programs, we create a study abroad environment that combines close relationships with faculty and staff, cultural and language immersion, engagement with local stakeholders, rigorous academic content, and the most fun imaginable.

Why we do it…

A great deal of research, including ours, finds that international tourism tends to create a bubble around tourists which shelters them from the real people, landscapes, and challenges facing the areas visited. SeaState strives for authentic immersion, engagement, and participation with local people and ecosystems to burst these bubbles of ignorance. The purpose of our trips are to not only provide memorable and life changing experiences, but also to transfer skills necessary for our alumni to enhance their compassion, global citizenship, environmental stewardship, and marketability for our globalized world.

Apply to Study

We have built global networks through extensively traveling and conducting scholarly research, which we hope to share with you in the field. Below you can find out a bit more about us.


Dr. Leon Mach

Academic Advisor

Leon’s passion for surfing has not only led him around the world, but has also guided him through graduate school. He has completed his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy with focuses in environmental justice and international tourism and also earned a Higher Education Certification. Leon has led numerous accredited study abroad programs throughout Central and South America and Southeast Asia and is an energetic advocate for encouraging students to apply what they are passionate about into their studies as he has with surfing and sustainability.

Sarah Hughen


Sarah Hughen was born in rural Wisconsin. Her upbringing was deeply rooted in nature, and this draw to wild places has led her all over the world.  A desire to connect, and not merely move through places found her on numerous extended expeditions including a 100 day kayak and first ascent mountaineering trip in Southern Patagonia, a 90 day paddle across Northern Canada, and a photography expedition down the Mackenzie River for 1,000 miles documenting local villages in the Arctic.  Sarah received a formal Degree in photography from Montana State, and currently lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea with her husband of 10 years and two young boys Oliver and Evan. Living in Cardiff Sarah made a deep connection to the wilderness and lessons that surfing brings, and is hopelessly addicted. Her most recent project (A Wave A Day) involved an awareness campaign for breast cancer in which she vowed to surf every single day for a year, and document her inspiring personal challenge. Founding SeaState is a natural extension of Sarah’s immense field experience and deep rooted passion for responsible travel and the life altering experiences it can bring for all.