My formal education was unconventional. In 1978, at 15 years old, I left home in the Ohio rustbelt and flew to Hawaii where I planned to live in a treehouse.

After working as a beach lifeguard and having some opportunity to travel and surf around the world, I realized that I may have missed something by not having attended high school or college.

Travel made me curious. It was time to go back to school.

Receiving my Master of Arts (MA) in Taiwan Studies from the president of National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Back to School

The first step in my schooling was to take the General Educational Development (GED) test at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in 1991. This gave me a certificate equivalent to a high school diploma.

Next, I enrolled at the University of Hawaii. I began my studies in 1992, at the age of 30. The first courses I took were Physical Anthropology and World Civilization. These courses, and the professors who taught them, encouraged me to continue learning. Twenty-five years later, I am still learning and sharing my enthusiasm with my students.



Doctor of Philosophy | Environmental Management


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Environmental Management

Prince of Songkla University, Hat-yai Thailand

Dissertation: A Surf Resource Sustainability Index for Surf Site Conservation and Tourism Management


Master of Business Administration (MBA) | Hospitality and Tourism Management


Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Hospitality and Tourism Management

Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand

Thesis: Coastal Resource Assessment for Surf Tourism in Thailand


Master of Arts | Taiwan Studies


Master of Arts (MA) in Taiwan Studies

National Chengchi University, Taiwan, ROC

Thesis: Ethnohistorical Perspectives of the Bunun: A Case Study of Laipunuk, Taiwan


Bachelor of Arts | Liberal Studies


Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Liberal Studies (Experiential Studies in Chinese Culture and Philosophy)

University of Hawaii at Hilo


Associate in Arts | Liberal Arts


Associate in Arts (AA) in Liberal Arts (Honors)

Hawaii Community College | Pālamanui Campus (formerly West Hawaii Center)


Certificates in Chinese Philosophy

1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002

Certificate Programs in Chinese Philosophy ( 中國哲學 )

Peking University ( 北京大学 ) Department of Philosophy

Experiential Learning

In my teens and twenties, especially while working as a beach lifeguard and American Red Cross instructor in Hawaii, the ocean was my teacher.

Over time, and as I traveled, I gained an appreciation for learning and teaching (see The Jewel of Travel). Everywhere I went, there were new things to learn, and when I returned, I was able to teach those lessons to others.

I believe that experience has to come first, and as we naturally gain intellectual curiosity, we develop the mental qualities that enable us to really enjoy and benefit from university education – providing us with something that may have otherwise remained inside, undiscovered.

Thank you for looking at my Education page.

–Steven A. Martin

Graduation Day at National Chengchi University | Taiwan, 2006 | Click to learn more about Taiwan Studies...