How to Plan a Faculty Led Program Abroad
A well planned proposal for a faculty led program will include the course outline, academic goals and objectives, coursework, cultural components, learning assessments, the itinerary and logistics, an emergency/crisis management plan, and a detailed budget. It will also include a statement of the faculty member’s familiarity with the site, a list of contacts/support network and an orientation plan for students. It generally will take at least one (1) full year to plan, advertise and market a faculty led program abroad. Click this link to see a Faculty Led Programs Planning process chat.
I. Academic Goals and Objectives
The proposal should include the course outline, syllabi, and methods of delivery, learning objectives, outcomes and measures for assessment. It should address how the content may be impacted contextually by geography, history, political, socio-economic and cultural traditions. Pre- and post-assessments, including the development of cultural sensitivity and awareness skills, are also critical components of the proposal.
II. The Itinerary
Although circumstances may cause changes in the itinerary, detailed ground logistics will help to achieve a smoothly operated experience. A detailed plan will lessen the chance for confusion, costly mistakes and wasted time. When building an itinerary, consideration should be given to the size of the group, the time between activities, how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B, breaks/rest periods, potential traffic, weather, ground conditions, and communication/language gaps. A good daily itinerary will include for each day and activity:
- the starting point location and time for group assembly;
- the mode of transport and time to destination;
- the activity to occur at the destination;
- breaks, snacks or meals to be taken at the destination;
- the departure time and place for group assembly;
- the mode of transport and time to next destination; items (1). through (5);
- the closing of the day’s activities; and
- the recommended clothing and shoe wear for the day.
- Free Time.
If it is deemed safe for the students to have free time, such time should be built into the itinerary so that the students can plan ahead. Students should be given a list of suggested places to visit as well as areas to avoid.
Often breakfast will be included in the hotel cost. To keep costs low, try to plan at least one other group meal at a discounted rate. Inform students when they will be able to eat on their own and how much they can expect to spend.
Logistics planning is crucial to developing a comprehensive budget and crisis management plan. Mapping out every step of the program will uncover costs, potential risks and weaknesses in the itinerary. A skeletal outline would include:
- Ground transportation and cost to airport;
- Flight and connections to destination and costs;
- Ground transportation and cost to hotel/accommodations;
- Ground transportation and cost to site destinations;
- Site destinations and costs and lengths of stay;
- Meal times and locations;
- Ground transportation and cost to airport;
- Flight and connections to USA;
- Ground transportation and cost to home.
IV. Emergency/Crisis Management Plan.
An emergency or crisis could occur at any moment in the itinerary and could affect one, some or all participants. The University will provide a step-by-step procedural guide to assist the faculty leader in resolving the crisis depending on its nature. Leaders should become familiar with the contents of the guide prior to departure and know what course of action to take in the event of an emergency. The course proposal must include:
- A copy of the current insurance coverage for ground transportation used for excursions;
- A list of local hospitals and contact numbers;
- The name and contact information of a trusted attorney or one referred by a reliable source;
- The location and contact information of the local US embassy or consulate;
- The names and contact information of local support contacts or networks;
- A designated assistant or backup person to step into the role temporarily of an incapacitated leader;
- Means of communication between faculty and students;
- Vital contact information to be distributed to the students, including the cell phone number of the faculty leader, the names, addresses and phone numbers of the hotels or other accommodations, local emergency numbers, and the address and phone number of the local US embassy or consulate.
V. Familiarity with Country of Destination.
Describe your level of familiarity with the country of destination, its history, culture etc., number of times visited, knowledge of the geography and proficiency with the language.
VI. Preparing the Budget.
The budget will be made up of fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are not dependent upon the number of participates and are constant. Variable costs are dependent on the number of participants. Key points to remember are that faculty expenses will be absorbed by the student budget and that students will also be charged a $200.00 study abroad fee. A 10% contingency should be built into the budget to address unforeseen costs that may arise. The need for entry visas and immunizations should be researched and communicated to students as additional potential costs. A sample budget is attached as Sample Form A.
VII. Pre-departure Orientation.
A comprehensive pre-departure orientation is a mandatory component for all students participating in a study abroad program. Good and valuable information delivered to students prior to departure can lessen fear, culture shock, confusion, and a sense of loss of control of one’s self. It also arms the student with confidence and lays the foundation for being receptive to a greater depth of knowledge about the host country and culture. Pre-departure information should include information about the following:
- Travel logistics;
- Currency exchange;
- Suggested clothing and footwear;
- Cultural customs and tidbits;
- Health and safety;
- Rules, regulations, code of conduct;
- Emergency contacts.
Include pictures of destinations where possible.
VIII. Health Screening.
Students will be asked to complete an emergency contact and health questionnaire after being accepted into the course. Students will be given the opportunity to self-disclose any medical condition for which they are under current treatment and to list medications they may be taking. This information will remain confidential and only used in support of addressing an emergent situation with the student.