Policies for Study Away Teaching

Study Away and Safety
Study away programs (including J-Term and summer courses) may only be planned for countries officially recognized by and with regular relations with the United States. In addition, the Travel Safety Committee at Gustavus maintains a user-friendly system to assign destinations to one of three feasibility statuses with intuitive, "traffic light" color coding. The committee uses current U.S. State Department Travel Advisories and similar information from other governmental and quasi-governmental sources to make these determinations.

  • Red. For locations that are assigned to the "red" category, travel is not currently allowed.
  • Yellow. For locations assigned to the "yellow" category, travel is allowed with extra precautions taken and a more stringent liability waiver signed. For group travel, yellow locations must be approved by the Travel Safety Committee (in addition to, and with separate authority from, the Global Engagement Committee).
  • Green. For locations assigned to the "green" category, travel is currently allowed with all the normal precautions that any travel should take when traveling to any destination.

If the status of a location changes while Gustavus students, staff or faculty are in that location, College personnel will determine the best course of action to reduce risk, and a political or disaster evacuation may be required.

Risk Management
In addition to the overall safety concerns noted above, all Gustavus faculty and staff who lead study away programs or other long-distance and/or overnight travel are expected to follow common risk-management protocols and to follow a harm-reduction philosophy in both planning programs and guiding students to make less risky decisions. Faculty who lead study away programs and courses will receive pre-departure guidance and a handbook from the CICE team.

Academic Rigor
Study away programs, whether undertaken abroad or in a domestic setting other than the Gustavus campus, shall be characterized by the same academic rigor and high expectations for student work as on-campus study. Study away courses are expected to:

  • reflect the academic importance of offering the course at the chosen site;
  • be designed to foster intercultural engagement and to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on their intercultural learning and its relationships with their subject content learning; and
  • integrate the subject being studied with some mixture of site visits, guest lectures, fieldwork, research, community-based learning, excursions, activities, interactions with local residents, and assignments and projects that engage students with their study away surroundings.

Course Contact Hours
Study away courses shall have at least as much contact time as courses offered on campus (40 or more contact hours per course per term). Normally study away courses will have considerably more than this minimum. Contact time include class meetings, lectures by the instructor or guest lecturers, and all supervised, course-related activities. Although the nature of out-of-classroom work undertaken in study away programs may differ considerably from out-of-classroom work undertaken in an on-campus course, the time students are expected to devote to out-of-classroom work (such as reading, research, and preparation of assignments) shall be approximately the same in study away courses as it is in on-campus courses.

Evaluation of Students (Grading)
Evaluation shall be conducted in a manner consistent with overall college policies and practices and may reflect the special circumstances of a study away experience. Criteria for evaluation in study away programs and courses shall be made clear to students at the beginning of the term/course.

Program Evaluation
Each study away course or program shall be evaluated by two means:

  • Online questionnaire distributed to returning students by the CICE. Results of this evaluation will be shared with the faculty leader(s) of the course; and
  • The Faculty Director's final program report, generally due within one month of the end of the program. Reports are narrative, but the CICE team will provide a loose set of guidelines about topics and issues to address.

Embedded Assessment
In all study away programs and courses led by Gustavus faculty members, one or more self-reflective writing assignments will be included and embedded as regular course assignments that contribute to the calculation of the student's grade in one or more program courses. Anonymized copies of assignments will be retained by the faculty director of the course for use in assessment of the Intercultural Student Learning Outcomes by a team of faculty and staff assessors. This model allows Gustavus to maintain a continual record of its progress in meeting the establish Intercultural Student Learning Outcomes and to document that our study away programming meets these overall objectives (in addition to any other Student Learning Outcomes related to general-education content or discipline-specific content and to contributions to Institutional Student Learning Outcomes).

Who May Serve as a Faculty Director
Any regularly appointed Gustavus faculty member or administrator with appropriate academic credentials (e.g., a minimum of a master's degree) may serve as a Faculty Director. Adjuncts and instructors with continuing contracts are considered "regularly appointed." In all cases, the courses to be taught must be approved through the appropriate channels, and the prospective Faculty Director must have the permission of the relevant department head or program director.

Program Services Coordinators (PSCs)
All J-Term faculty-led programs will also have a Program Services Coordinator (PSC), a second responsible staff member who accompanies the program. In many cases, the PSC may be a staff member of the host organization or the program partner organization that makes arrangements for the program (or even their staff member who works in the city in which the program will meet). In other cases, the PSC may be a Gustavus faculty or staff member. Finally, the Faculty Director's partner or other family member may also serve in this capacity. For semester programs, the PSC role is always fulfilled by an in-country program partner or another logistical expert hired to fulfill that purpose, so family members are not appointed for semester-length programs.

Family Members Accompanying Faculty Directors and PSCs
Faculty Directors and PSCs may be accompanied by any second adult whom they choose, though individuals who are not legally recognized as family members will be required to purchase supplementary travel medical and liability insurance . Dependent children may also accompany Faculty Directors and PSCs, though there must then be an additional adult in the party who will have primary responsibility for the accompanying children at all times. Neither the Faculty Director nor the PSC should be the same person as the adult responsible for the care of accompanying children, but an accompanying adult who is not serving as the PSC may fulfill this role. All accompanying adults and children participate at their own expense (unless the second adult is also serving as the PSC, in which case that person's reimbursable travel costs are covered), including for any excess rents beyond the standard one-bedroom accommodations, airfares, meals, and other costs. Generally speaking, accompanying family members do not participate in program activities, excursions, courses, etc. with perhaps the exception of receptions or arrival and departure meals. The CICE Director will determine fees payable to Gustavus Adolphus College for all individuals accompanying a study away program who are neither registered students nor a responsible Faculty Director or PSC.

Back-up Policy
All Gustavus faculty-led study away programs (whether J-Term or semester) must have a designated back-up Faculty Director. This individual will step into the role of Faculty Director in the event that the primary FD is unable to participate at a date that is too late to cancel the program. In some cases, the PSC may be considered the back-up, but then a back-up PSC will be established as well.

Direct and Indirect Compensation
Both Faculty Directors and PSCs receive financial support for their participation in Gustavus study away programs, including: transportation, accommodation (generally in a one-bedroom facility or hotel room), two meals per day, and all admissions costs for excursions and other activities. In addition, while Faculty Directors are compensated either through in-load course recognition or overload salary, PSCs receive no compensation beyond the costs of their participation.

Policy on Flight Upgrades
When they are accompanying students (i.e., when the group is traveling together), Faculty Directors and PSCs generally join the students in economy class, though an exception will be approved for - and medical-related needs that are documented. Upgrades required for documented accessibility- and medical-related needs will be covered by College funds. In all cases, accessibility and medical documentation must be submitted to the relevant CICE staff member by the deadline given.

When Faculty Directors and PSCs are traveling separately form the students, then optional upgrades may be selected at the individual's own expense. An exception may be possible for very long flight itineraries (20+ air travel hours) when traveling apart from students and when breaking the travel up with an overnight stay in each direction would cost the College more (i.e., including the extra costs for the staggered flight itineraries, hotel in the stopover city, transportation to and from the hotel, etc.) than the cost difference for the business-class upgrade. Such exceptions must be approved in advance by the budget approver for the account in question (most often, the CICE Director).

Liability Coverage
Gustavus faculty and staff members who serve as Faculty Directors or PSCs for study away programs are covered under the College's liability insurance if they are in compliance with the policies and procedures described in this document and the Faculty Director/PSC Handbook and with general college policies and are acting in a manner consistent with professional standards. (An important note: individuals who are known to be intoxicated at the time of the incident in question are not acting in a manner with professional standards and may not have liability coverage.)

Recommendation Restriction for Your Own Courses and Programs
For faculty-led courses and programs, student applicants are only required to secure one faculty recommendation as part of the application process. However, that recommendation may not come from any Faculty Director or PSC who is staffing that particular course or program. (In other words: do not write recommendations for your own programs!)

Student Selection Criteria and Timeline
Each Faculty Director shall establish selection criteria for their own program and describe those criteria in application materials created by the CICE. In addition, CICE staff members will screen all applicants for general study away eligibility (minimal GPA and good academic and conduct standing not including probation). Applications for all programs (J-Term, semester, and summer) are processed on a rolling basis as applications are completed, with a waiting list established once the program has reached capacity.

Eligibility to Participate in Gustavus Study Away Programs
Some Gustavus study away courses and programs are open to participants from other colleges and universities. However, only degree-seeking students may participate in credit-bearing Gustavus study away courses and programs (i.e., they are not open to alumni, community members, or other participants who are not currently degree-seeking students). Furthermore, Gustavus does not tend to operate non credit-bearing "companion tours," with the exception of the international music tours. There are separate travel programs designed specifically for alumni, parents/families, and College friends.

Modifications of Approved J-Term and Summer Study Away Courses
The J-Term or summer Faculty Director may teach only the approved course during the program and may not modify the focus or level of the course after approval by the Global Engagement Committee.

Exclusive Activity Policy for Faculty Directors and PSCs
Because of the intensive nature of study away courses and programs, Faculty Directors and PSCs must obtain approval from the CICE Director to supervise independent study/independent research or internship/Career Exploration projects undertaken by students who are not enrolled in the study away program and occurring during the same term in which the Faculty Director or PSC is leading the study away course or program.

Gustavus Self-Insurance Policy for Trip Insurance
Faculty and staff members traveling for the purposes of leading or planning/developing a study away program – or for any other business purpose supported by College funds – should not purchase trip or travel insurance with College funds. Because the circumstances that would precipitate claims for such travel are so rare, and there is nominal trip interruption coverage through EIIA, the College self-insures for this particular purpose. For that reason, trip or travel insurance that you elect to purchase will not be reimbursable. Note, too, that CICE budgets for and schedules international travel health and disaster evacuation for all students and faculty participating in international study away programs.