Developing Blocks Abroad
Thank you for your willingness to lead an off-campus block or semester program. We know that much work has gone (or will go) into planning your program, and we appreciate all that you do to make it a valuable learning experience for your students.
Teaching off-campus requires that you assume many roles, including: faculty, guide, driver, emergency responder, accountant, reporter, disciplinarian, and many more. We invite you to meet with us to discuss the various roles and how to prepare for them. If this is your first time teaching a block abroad, we can also connect you with a more seasoned faculty leader.
The Center for Global Education & Field Study has developed a faculty handbook for developing and leading blocks abroad. You access the faculty handbook on the Canvas course entitled, "Faculty Leaders of Blocks Off-Campus." If you have not received an invite to this Canvas course, please contact Allen Bertsche to be added.
As of January 2018, the U.S. Department of State changed how it rates the safety and security of each country. Travel warnings are gone and have been replaced with travel advisories. See the new College policy on traveling to higher-risk rated locations.
We look forward to working with you, and wish you a successful experience off-campus.
Recommended Best Practices for Teaching a Course Off-Campus
- The program has clearly stated learning objectives and outcomes.
- Two non-student adult employees traveling with students on all blocks abroad, one person being a College faculty member and the other a full or part-time employee of the College. The second adult may be hired by the College for the trip itself, but the second adult must be an employee of the College for at least the duration of the trip.
- Pre-departure, orientation and re-entry programming is provided.
- Students with special needs are provided for to highest degree possible.
- A strategy for assessing student learning is in place.
- The program has a student code of conduct.
- The program operates in accordance with U.S. and international laws.
- The program acts with sensitivity to and respect for differences between local cultural norms and those of the U.S.
- The program has established effective health, security and risk management policies and procedures (e.g. SOS).
- The Office of International Programs has the group’s itinerary and contact information.
- The program has sufficient financial resources to assure its academic success and the well-being of students.
Recommended Pre-departure Timeline
To help ensure your program runs as smoothly as possible, you are strongly encouraged to consider the following predeparture timeline.
A year in advance
- Consider applying for funding to conduct a site visit (department/program; Christian Johnson Endeavor funds).
- Identify a second responsible adult who can work in-country with you, or join you from the U.S.
- Develop a budget, itinerary, and syllabus.
- Begin to gather health and safety information about the location. You can use the College's membership to International SOS to help you with this; they also have country specialists that you can consult with in detail, and will help you develop the safest itinerary.
- For summer blocks only: Include a COI (Consent of Instructor) into the course description. This allows you to influence who enrolls in the block abroad. Be mindful that traveling and studying overseas often requires emotional maturity and academic readiness beyond what is required for an on-campus class. Though CC staff will respond and support you in case of an emergency during the block abroad, you may not have the same immediate services readily available.
- Schedule an information session with detailed information about the living and studying situation, especially if you are taking your class to a remote setting. Introduce the cultural context. At the first meeting please mention that students are responsible for obtaining a visa if required for entry. This is particularly important for the international students. A student who needs a visa should begin the application process several months before the departure date. A student can contact the Center for Global Education for advice, but the office cannot obtain the visa on behalf of the student.
- Schedule a student pre-departure orientation session. Taking a class overseas requires plenty of planning time for obtaining a passport and visa. The Center for Global Education can assist you with this session and provide the necessary student forms which must be completed. (Some faculty prefer to schedule several sessions that culminate in a session shortly before departure).
- Student Health Forms: For all academic year blocks abroad and semester programs students will need to complete a self-reported medical form section in their Summit application, no later than one block prior to their departure. For summer blocks, students will need to turn in their forms by summer session orientation date (typically held in mid-April). Faculty have access to review these medical forms, and should clarify and address any potential concerns with the student, Boettcher, International SOS, and/or Accessibility Resources. In regards to allergies or special diets, in some countries, particular dietary restrictions may not easily be accommodated. Discuss this matter with the students before it’s a problem.
- When the student submits their application to Summit, it pings the Office of Student Life for a review. Faculty can and should review their eligibility, based on their record.
- Announce that students with special needs or accommodations must contact you well in advance. This can avoid inconvenient surprises that may complicate the trip once you are in-country. Talk with Jan Edwards (Accessibility Resources) if a student with special needs approaches you.
- If the course requires students bring specific clothing or equipment, distribute a packing list.
- Advise students who are currently taking, or may possibly need, prescription drugs to bring with them a list of all prescription medications (generic names) and instructions for their use, a physician’s letter explaining the need for the prescriptions, and an adequate supply of medications in bottles labeled with the medication name, patient’s name, doctor’s name, and expiration date. Refer students with questions to International SOS.
- Locate a quality doctor, hospital and dentist near the site ahead of time. International SOS can assist with this process. If students will be staying in a different location than the faculty, they should be provided with an address list of the recommended medical facilities.
- Encourage the students not to bring ID cards, credit cards, or social security cards which they do not need abroad.
- Inform students of potential dangers and/or provide them with information on how to reduce the risks involved. Think about how you will handle different types of emergencies that may arise.
- Stay updated about the political and safety situation in the country.
Two weeks before departure
- If you need to bring a cash advance from CC, make sure you request the funds at least two weeks before departure. You will need to submit a request for cash advance to the business office. Your departmental staff assistant should be able to help you.
- Since you will need to account for all expenses, make sure you have a plan for keeping track. A small notebook is convenient for tracking daily expenses, in case receipts are not always readily available. If this is your first time leading a block abroad, the Center for Global Education can provide additional information. You can also ask the Business Office for assistance.
- Determine if you need to bring a first aid kit.
- Confirm that all in-country logistical arrangements are in place.
- If you plan to rent a vehicle while abroad, make sure you have permission from CC to drive while overseas on a College sponsored trip. The Colorado College Facilities Services department conducts Motor Vehicle Record checks prior to authorizing drivers (see the section on Auto Insurance).
- Ensure that all participants have an International SOS card and know how to use it. You can also ask the Center for Global Education to provide a more comprehensive overview of this service.
- Ensure all students acknowledge that the CC Student Code of Conduct will be enforced while overseas. Determine if you need to implement a course specific code of conduct. If you do, please leave a copy of the code with the Center for Global Education.
- For emergency reasons, CC requires that two adults travel with the students on all blocks abroad. Provide students with information on how to reach both of you in an emergency. One adult should always be reachable and available 24 hours a day throughout the program. We recommend creating a wallet-sized card with important contact information and distributing it to students. Include the CC campus operator phone number as well. Another idea is to create a label with important numbers and stick it onto each SOS card.
One week before departure
- Leave your emergency contact information and detailed itinerary with the Center for Global Education.
- Register the group with the US embassy abroad at https://travelregistration.state.gov.
- Ensure all students have uploaded a copy of their passport information page to Summit.
- Contact the Business Office if you haven’t yet received your cash advance.