Summer Study Abroad Credit-Bearing Programs

Each summer, the Georgetown University Office of Global Education (OGE) administers more than 20 credit-bearing programs for undergraduate students abroad. Most of these programs are led by university faculty and provide Georgetown credit and grades for completed coursework. Please see myGUABROAD to explore recent summer offerings.

OGE deeply values the time, energy, expertise, and careful planning that GU faculty members invest in leading short-term education abroad programs each year. It is due in large measure to their tremendous efforts that students so often place summer study abroad among their most meaningful experiences at Georgetown.

OGE welcomes ideas and proposals for new summer education abroad programs. Georgetown faculty who may wish to develop new credit-bearing summer programs should contact Gregory Spear, Assistant Director of Global Living and Learning Programs, at gs901@georgetown.edu. Faculty interested in developing non-credit programs should contact Elizabeth Greenfeld, Assistant Director for Global Program Support Services (GPS), at (202) 687-5867 or eae6@georgetown.edu.

Program proposals must include detailed information about academics, housing, on-site support, costs, cultural integration, and health and safety in the proposed host-country. In addition, coursework associated with a new program must be reviewed and approved by the relevant academic department or school before the program is proposed to the PPC. Please use the program proposal template to submit new programs for consideration.

Before beginning work on a proposal for a new credit-bearing program, interested faculty should be sure to review OGE’s Guidelines for Georgetown Short-Term/Summer Study Abroad Programs. It is also strongly advised that interested faculty schedule an appointment to meet with OGE’s Global Living and Learning Programs team in advance of the proposal deadline to discuss their ideas and solicit feedback.

While GU faculty directors find it deeply rewarding to lead overseas summer programs, they also consistently report that the work is time-intensive, and often physically and emotionally challenging. It is vital that potential new directors fully understand these demands and expectations of developing and directing an OGE summer program. Faculty should not plan to conduct research, prepare new courses, travel alone, or spend extensive time with family abroad while directing a GU summer program. In addition to designing and overseeing the academic component of their programs (which usually includes teaching), faculty directors are expected to:

  • Participate in outreach and recruitment strategies
  • Review applicants for admission to the program
  • Assist in developing budgetary, logistical, and personnel decisions for the program.
  • Conduct pre-departure and on-site orientation programs;
  • Maintain daily contact with students once abroad;
  • Serve as an ongoing resource for students as they adjust to life and study abroad;
  • Provide 24-hour emergency support to participants;
  • Remain on site throughout the duration of their program;
  • Inform OGE of significant program developments and collaborate with OGE staff in responding to emergency situations as they arise;
  • Attend an annual, on-campus training workshop for directors of summer programs.
  • Submit a summary report to OGE at the end of each program.

Guidelines for Short-Term/Summer Study Abroad Programs

The Georgetown Office of Global Education developed the following guidelines in order to provide faculty, students, overseas partners, parents, and other members of our community a fuller understanding of the quality, purpose, and requirements of Georgetown summer study abroad programs. These guidelines were developed in keeping with the Office of Global Education’s overall mission to:

Promote, support, and develop international and intercultural educational opportunities for students, and in so doing, help define the international character of Georgetown;

Develop and evaluate these programs in collaboration with the wider Georgetown community in order to ensure that they are academically rigorous, linguistically appropriate, and complementary to the Georgetown curriculum; and

Maximize opportunities for students to reflect on the values that form their own identities and to encourage them to assume their roles as responsible world citizens.

Academic Requirements (Number of Hours of Instruction)

For each three credits earned, the program should provide a combined 45 hours of formal instruction and program related activities designed to strengthen academic and intercultural learning (examples include cultural exchanges, group excursions, and community-engaged programming). Syllabi for courses not taught by Georgetown faculty must be reviewed and approved by the program director and the academic department that houses the course.

Duration

OGE summer programs range anywhere from two to eight weeks in-country.  Programs that are 4-6 weeks in length are generally most effective in exposing participants to host-country cultures in meaningful ways, while allowing students time to pursue other opportunities during the summer.  Proposals for programs shorter than three weeks may be considered on a case-by-case basis and should include provisions for substantive academic work by students before and/or after the in-country portion of the program.

Location and Community Engagement

The program should be designed in a way that deeply integrates the program’s location into its curricular content, drawing on the host culture and community to maximize academic and intercultural learning outcomes. While weekly excursions that delve into topics explored in the classroom can greatly contribute toward this goal, the program should seek to go beyond mere “educational tourism” in favor of activities and approaches that foster rich, authentic, and sustained interaction between students and members of the surrounding community. Examples of such interactions include peer-to-peer dialogues and discussion groups, tutoring, community-based service or research, housing with host families or local students, and language partnering.

Cultural Learning and Language Instruction

Programs should be designed to significantly broaden and complicate students’ understanding of the host-country culture. Toward that aim, faculty directors should be prepared to incorporate the cultural dimension of learning goals into the program in a sustained and integrative way.  While the emphasis on intercultural learning may differ between programs, all OGE summer programs should encourage students to consider the overall concept of culture and the manner in which their own cultural identities shape their assumptions about the world.

For programs of more than three weeks with a strong focus on cultural acquisition, it is advisable to include language study as part of the program’s curriculum.  There are many effective ways to do this.  Program directors are encouraged to make full use of the host country’s resources through homestays, language activities with local students or community members.

Programs with coursework not designed around linguistic or cultural immersion may still wish to include instruction in the host language in order to deepen students’ experience and prepare them to navigate and engage with their new surroundings to the best of their ability.  Even at a rudimentary level, foreign language learning can provide a valuable window into the host culture that interacting in translation cannot, as well as provides an excellent lesson in cultural humility for American students who are otherwise accustomed to speaking the dominant language of the U.S. and of globalization.

Health and Safety

The faculty director and on-site staff must have clear and detailed plans to provide for student health and to address medical emergencies at the program site and during program excursions in keeping with the Georgetown University emergency protocol. These plans should take into full consideration the physical challenges presented by the infrastructure of the program’s location and include a comprehensive review of medical resources and evacuation plans. At least two people (the faculty director and an additional program staff member, or the faculty director and an on-site staff member from the host institution) should be available to provide 24-hour emergency assistance.

OGE provides an annual training workshop on health and safety and emergency management and response for all summer faculty directors each spring.

Faculty Director Selection

OGE reviews all candidates for summer directorships in consultation with the appropriate academic department. In addition to possessing knowledge and familiarity with the host culture and local language, the faculty director must also be prepared to carry out the many non-academic duties of the position, which include providing 24-hour emergency assistance, counseling students, addressing behavioral issues and group dynamics, visiting host families, planning and partaking in excursions, and being widely accessible to students throughout the program. The director must possess the necessary interpersonal skills to assist students effectively as they experience the physical and emotional stress of life abroad. The director must plan to be on-site with students for the full duration of the proposed program.

Program Sustainability

OGE’s philosophy of program development is that faculty proposing new programs should be prepared to offer the program for a continuous period of at least three years.   A specific plan for the program’s continuation for this period should be included in the program proposal.  Beyond a commitment from the faculty director, ensuring program sustainability and longevity requires two areas of planning:

Enrollments: The program must have demonstrable potential to draw student enrollments sufficient to meet its costs. For most new programs, the minimum number of participants should be about 10 students.  To help ensure a broad base for recruitment, it is advisable to design programs with academic content that is broadly applicable to a variety of majors, or that meets general education requirements.  Further, the faculty director and “home” department or school play critical roles in promoting the program to potential students.

New program proposals must include a careful assessment of potential enrollments and a detailed plan for recruitment.  On average, only about fifty percent of students who start applications for a summer study abroad program go on to complete those applications and commit to their programs. Thus, a program projected to run with a minimum of ten students must typically garner at least twenty applications each year.

Continuity: The program should be able to draw from several qualified Georgetown faculty (or graduate students, where appropriate) to serve as on-site directors. Developing a process for the rotation of directorship creates wider departmental buy-in for the program and allows for continuity in years in which the primary faculty member cannot direct the program.

Questions to Consider Before Proposing a Program

  • How does program location connect to curriculum? Is the program’s setting an integral part of its academic focus?
  • Is the program designed to foster meaningful contact between GU participants and the local population?
  • What makes this program unique at GU? Does it add something new to the current array of GU study abroad programs, or does it duplicate existing programs in some way?
  • On what institutional relationship will the program be based? How fully will the host institution support this program and its students? Do you personally know staff/faculty at the host university who would be working with our students? How interested/committed are they to the success of the program?
  • What housing options are available? How would we verify the quality of housing? If host families are to receive students, who will select and orient families, make student placements, and review quality?
  • Will the program provide direct GU credit or transfer credit? If GU credit, what must be done to have the courses officially approved at Georgetown?