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Penn Global's new Global Seminars Program offers students the opportunity to travel abroad while taking an on-campus course, with financial support readily available for all interested students.

Credit: Garett Nelson

Penn Global's new Global Seminars Program offers students the opportunity to take a short trip abroad with an on-campus course — and while travel isn't cheap, financial support is still readily available for all interested students.

As a brand new part of Penn Global, three seminars will launch in the spring semester. Consisting of a semester-long course as well as a short travel component, the Global Seminars allow students to take what they've learned on campus abroad with them for a short period of time.

“We basically teach on campus at Penn for the semester and then go overseas to highlight various elements of the course. We put out a call for faculty, who we’re going to support financially, logistically and in other ways,” Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel said.

The courses are generally small, with anywhere from 12-15 students, and also include a very participatory aspect so that the students may interact more closely with the professor. The travel portion of the class will be anywhere from one to four weeks long, depending on the timing of the trip.

Working closely with Student Financial Services, the faculty for Penn Abroad was able to ensure that the Global Seminars Program would be supported with financial aid in the same way that semester-long study abroad programs are.

“One of the most important things for us is accessibility for students of all financial backgrounds. With Penn Abroad, a lot of students don’t realize that their financial aid can travel with them. So in that case, a semester abroad shouldn’t cost more than a semester here at Penn because financial aid will actually adjust their aid packages,” Associate Director of Penn Abroad Rochelle Keesler said.

The fee for the overseas part of the program will cover housing, some meals, all of the cultural excursions and the academic components. Students will be responsible for paying for airfare, although aided students may be able to receive additional funds to cover the cost of flights.

“We want to provide these opportunities and to make sure that for students the money is not an inhibition. We have done almost everything that we can think of to reduce the financial barriers, so that they’re open to anyone,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel explained that the budget proposals for each Global Seminar are reviewed carefully to make sure that the costs are appropriate, affordable and justifiable. Each instructor of a Global Seminar is required to submit a tentative budget for their course before the classes are decided upon. Penn Global hopes to create a system that is prepared for any possible circumstance or unexpected cost during the students' brief time abroad.

With a significant amount of planning and preparation, the faculty members can gain better insight as to what the costs abroad will look like and how best to prepare their students when the time comes.

Global Seminar instructor Amel Mili, who is a lecturer in Arabic and Director of Lauder Arabic Language and Culture Program, said that instructors meet with the administrators to review their projected budgets, adding that the professors consider what they think will be academically meaningful when generating budgets for their classes. She also stressed the importance of preparing the students for the trip.

“We are including two sessions to do preparation for the adventure. We go over security, managing money, what to expect while they’re in the country, how to dress and cultural communication,” Mili said of her seminar.

While Penn Global initially expected few faculty members to submit course proposals, they were surprised at the high interest that followed.

“We’ve been working on the concepts for about two years or so. The actual call for proposals [for courses] was put out last March and within a few weeks we had 27 proposals from faculty members who are interested in leading,” Keesler said.

Students are required to apply for Global Seminars. Applications for the spring 2016 courses were due on Friday.

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