Develop a New Faculty-Led Freestanding Program

A faculty-led freestanding program is a single course or compilation of courses related to a theme or topic, where the Penn State faculty leaders deliver all or nearly all academic content during the course of the international experience.  Such programs almost always occur during summer since the length of the education abroad experience typically lasts 2-8 weeks.

A faculty-led freestanding program can enhance the international offerings within a particular academic department, can support internationalization strategic goals of a college, and can allow for students from a variety of disciplines and majors to study engaging topics together in an international context.  The faculty leader assumes a great deal of responsibility for the development, proposal, implementation, and execution of the program - including the academic content, travel logistics, international site visits and activities, budgeting and record keeping, and the health and safety of program participants.  This may seem like an overwhelming list of responsibilities, but there are a number of support resources to help the faculty leader throughout the entire process.

There are many important steps to developing a new faculty-led freestanding program, and the process and official proposal procedures are outlined for review.

Faculty-Led Freestanding Program Development and Approval

It may be that the course(s) planned as part of the education abroad program already exists (e.g., ENG 202).  Or, it may be that the faculty leader and sponsoring academic department choose to utilize a special topics course number for the first year or two that the program will run abroad (e.g., ENG 499).  It is also possible that the course(s) to be offered on the program is a completely new offering that the faculty leader will design and offer for the first time abroad.  In any case, it is essential that the faculty member communicates with the leadership of his or her academic department, college, and campus concerning the process for course approval.  Please note that in addition to administrative leadership, each college and campus also has a designated representative for education abroad program support.  That representative may be able to provide guidance at the academic unit level during the program development process.

Consultation and Support for Program Leaders

The staff in the Education Abroad Office are available to support faculty leaders throughout the process.  The first step in proposing a new faculty-led freestanding education abroad program is to contact the faculty-led programs team to have a consultation meeting either in person or by phone if the proposer is not able to meet at the University Park campus.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the academic nature of the proposed program, including but not limited to course/s to be taught, faculty sponsors or leaders, departmental and College support, and the marketing of the program.  It is important to explore likely student interest in the program concept and location prior to the meeting.  The meeting should be with the faculty person or persons proposing the program, and the director of Education Abroad may also request that the liaison with the proposer’s academic College or campus be present as well.  

If after the consultation meeting, it is agreed that the program concept is likely to enhance existing education abroad program offerings, the next step is to complete the online proposal documents and the two required academic recommendations.  However, the online proposal forms should not be started until the consultation meeting has concluded and the proposal idea is accepted by the director of Education Abroad. 

When Faculty-Led Freestanding Programs Can Occur

Since faculty-led freestanding programs usually last several weeks, the vast majority of such programs are offered during Penn State's summer semester.  The program can be planned in such a way where the education abroad experience crosses over semester dates from Maymester to summer session one and/or summer session two without academic or registration issues.  It is also possible to plan such a program during fall or spring semester, though it is rare that this arrangement works well for faculty leaders, who often have on-campus teaching obligations for other coursework and cannot spend 12-15 weeks abroad during fall or spring terms.

Global Programs Proposal Process

There is a two-step online course proposal process managed by the Education Abroad unit of Global Programs.  All faculty-led freestanding courses must be proposed by the faculty leader according to the timelines established by Global Programs.  The online proposal process includes a section for the Associate Dean and the Department Head of the relevant academic unit(s) to log in and indicate approval and support for the program.  More details about the online procedures will be covered during the initial consultation discussion with Education Abroad staff.

Program Proposal Deadlines

For faculty-led freestanding programs to be run during summer semester, the online proposal is due by June 1 of the previous year.  If the proposed program is to be run at any time of year besides summer, please plan to submit the proposal approximately 12 months in advance.

Start or Access a Faculty-Led Program Proposal

After reviewing the program proposal process, deadlines, and responsibilities for program leaders, we welcome you to begin the online proposal.  You can also access an existing proposal by the following link.  Please note that it is possible for one faculty or staff member to propose multiple courses in the system for the same semester.  Please create or access an existing embedded course proposal by logging in to the online proposal for faculty-led freestanding programs.

Requirements for Program Leaders

Faculty and staff program leaders maintain a high level of responsibility while planning and running education abroad programs.  There are a number of requirements that all Penn State program leaders must adhere to before departing for the program start, and all are built.  Please review the responsibilities of faculty and staff leading programs abroad.