Faculty-Led Education Abroad: Program Types and Proposal Process

CAS uses a multi-phased proposal process for faculty led education abroad programs.

  • March 1: Preliminary Proposal Questionnaire due
  • March 1 – August 1: Collaboration between faculty leaders and Renae Ninneman
  • August 1: Final proposal due (document available in February)

Strategic Plan and Process

The CAS Strategic Plan aims to increase student participation in education abroad programs and globally-oriented experiences by 20% by 2025. Programs where our own faculty are involved will continue to be popular options in this area, and offering a variety of high-quality programs is critical. The pandemic interrupted this effort in Spring 2020, but it also offered a unique opportunity to review practice and process. While we ran a limited set of programs in 2022, and received proposals for 2023, plans and processes have continued to evolve. By defining and supporting faculty-led programs in a way that is clear and sustainable, we improve access and participation for students, while making the planning and proposal process more manageable for everyone.  

Types of Programs Involving CAS Faculty

CAS Global Courses (UNL credit or combination of UNL and transfer credit)
These programs offer students an opportunity to take a UNL course from a UNL faculty member with the added support of traveling with UNL faculty and fellow students. Faculty-led programs may include UNL credit only, or a combination of UNL credit and transfer credit from a partner institution. Primary on-site leaders are faculty members who engage with students in the following ways:

  • Plan and facilitate pre-departure meetings that inform and build community
  • Teach at least one UNL course, and if a hybrid program, identify related transfer courses
  • Provide daily, on-site availability and support for students that facilitates academic success
  • Lead structured activities or excursions related to course learning outcomes

CAS Supported Programs (Transfer credit only)
Students earn transfer credit through another institution with which a UNL faculty member serving as the Academic Director has developed a cooperative relationship. These programs typically run each year, for up to a full academic term, and students may live in home stays, residence halls, or other arranged housing. The Academic Director coordinates with the host institution on the coursework that will be made available to students and facilitates the pre-departure and final credit evaluations.

  • Faculty-Accompanied Programs: Depending on the program and the structures in place for day-to-day student support, a CAS faculty or staff member may serve as a Resident Director and accompany students while in country. The Resident Director may or may not teach a UNL course alongside the courses offered at the host institution, and may or may not be the same person as the Academic Director. If the Resident Director is a faculty member, but does not teach a UNL course, they should be paid a stipend by their home department. The need, role, and expectations of a non-teaching Resident Director should be clearly articulated in the proposal process, and should not significantly increase student costs (no more than 5% of their billable total.)  
  • Featured Affiliate Programs: CAS faculty and the Global Experience Office (GEO) develop a strong partnership with a host institution (or study center), but their on-site presence is not necessary for the successful operation of the program. The college will heavily promote these programs, but academics, logistics, and day-to-day support of students is handled by the host institution or trusted third-party partners.

Credit Hours and Course Numbers
Typically, 45 instructional hours yields 3 credit hours (assuming academic work and assignments require additional independent effort from students.) For CAS Global Courses, especially those that may be more excursion based, 3 weeks typically yields no more than 3 credit hours. Faculty leaders of CAS Global Courses provide a detailed syllabus as part of the final proposal. For interdisciplinary programs, a single course should be offered to all students participating. Blanket substitutions can be used to apply a course to other relevant majors and minors.

Experiential Learning Designation
Education abroad courses, whether taught by UNL faculty or not, are eligible to meet the Experiential Learning requirement. For CAS Global Courses, the Advising Center will submit a blanket substitution per course, so that any student enrolled will meet the requirement. For CAS Supported programs with transfer credit, substitution forms will be processed student by student once the transfer credit is fully evaluated and applied to the student’s UNL degree.

How will CAS reduce costs and increase participation in CAS Global Courses and CAS Supported Programs?

  • Faculty/Staff Leader Cost Subvention: Through generous donations, CAS will assume non-teaching costs of each faculty or staff leader, in full or to a significant degree, enabling a reduction in program costs for every student participant.
  • Global Learning Scholarships: The CAS experiential learning scholarship has been restructured with all global learning (education abroad, international internships, and virtual global programs) applications administered by the Global Experiences Office within the greater MAPS application. Up to 13 scholarships per year of $1500 each will be awarded.

How many programs will be supported by CAS annually?
Pre-pandemic, CAS approved an average of 12-15 faculty-led programs each year. Unfortunately, due to low enrollment, 5 or more were typically cancelled at a late date, leaving enrolled students disappointed and beyond a point to move to a different program, or make alternative experiential plans for the summer ahead. By reducing the number of programs approved, we will encourage full participation in all of them, with no late cancellations. In the 5 years prior to the pandemic, CAS was able to enroll and run approximately 8 programs each year, our new target moving forward. As demand grows, we may be able to sustain more programs.

Repeat/Annual Programs (4)

  • French: Angers, France
  • German: Berlin, Germany
  • Spanish: (TBD)
  • Global Studies (locations and topics will vary)

Rotating/New Programs (4): Programs that are interdisciplinary and appealing to students in multiple majors/minors will be prioritized as these have historically had the greatest success. Programs are unlikely to be repeated in consecutive years, to allow greater variety and increased demand. Additional programs that are grant or donor funded and at a significantly reduced cost to students may be approved and offered outside the goal number of eight.

Process for Proposing and Approving Programs

The proposal process will take place in three phases – preliminary conceptual proposal, planning, and final proposal. There are preliminary and final proposal questionnaires that the GEO Coordinator will provide. The primary faculty leader should complete these questionnaires in consultation with the GEO Coordinator and in plenty of time for review and revision before submission deadlines. All phases of approval will be completed in the calendar year prior to the program dates. The move to a multi-phased process means faculty can initially propose a program with less front-end work. The preliminary proposal also means the college can tentatively announce programs planned earlier, allowing students to plan financially, logistically, and academically within their overall degree progress.

Phase 1: Preliminary Conceptual Proposal with Chair Approval (March 1)
Faculty leaders will summarize the concept and location for the program and provide basic details including approximate dates and duration, leader information and qualifications, and planned courses taught. If existing courses are planned, they will explain how they will be adapted for the education abroad environment and audience. If Special Topics courses are planned, they will prepare a brief description of the topics and learning outcomes, as well as potential for interdisciplinary partnerships to increase student interest and degree applicability. Proposals not approved at this level may need additional development, and feedback will be provided so that the proposal may be approved for the following year. 

Department chairs or program directors must articulate support for these programs, and in doing so agree to prioritize the course(s) in their requests for summer funding.  

Phase 2: Consultation and Planning with CAS Global Experiences Coordinator
Before final review and approval, faculty should be actively working with the CAS GEO Coordinator on the details of their program:

  • Logistics & on-site partnership(s)
  • Itinerary including in and out of class contact hours
  • Preliminary budget
  • Promotional strategy and target audience
  • Risk management and safety
  • Review and recognition of relevant GEO policies

Role of the GEO Coordinator
The college has final approval of faculty-involved education abroad programs, but relies heavily on feedback and recommendations of the GEO Coordinator, especially on topics like itinerary, logistics, student support, and safety/risk management. The GEO Coordinator will provide guidance to the faculty leaders, as well as share concerns. If concerns are expressed, the GEO Coordinator may suggest alternatives and solutions before making their recommendations to the college. Clear and timely communication by all parties is very important in every phase of a successful program. The GEO Coordinator and faculty leaders should work together on the content of the final proposal, but it is the faculty leader’s responsibility to complete the proposal document fully and in plenty of time to seek remaining feedback from the GEO Coordinator before it is finalized and submitting to the college.

Phase 3: Final Proposal Review and Approval (June 1 for Spring, August 1 for Summer and Fall)
Final review is based upon completion of a more detailed proposal questionnaire as well as inclusion of a detailed itinerary, budget, and safety/risk review. Approval is granted by a committee of members of the Dean’s Office and the GEO. Department chair approval is again required and signifies a commitment to support the program by prioritizing the course(s) in requests for summer funding. After the program receives final approval, the faculty leader can begin recruiting students in earnest.

Post-Program Review with Student, Faculty, and GEO Feedback
In addition to course evaluations, there will be an effort to collect more robust feedback from students, faculty leaders, and the GEO Coordinator. This information will be shared with the college and used in consideration of future proposals.


Christina Fielder
Sr Director of Student Academic and Career Development
College of Arts and Sciences

Renae Ninneman
Global Experience Coordinator
Global Experiences Office