International Field Study

Short-term international field study experiences have been conducted with students and faculty from a variety of institutions (Gorno-Altaisk State University, Haskell Indian Nations University, K-State, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Kansas) since 1999. These programs are generally three-to-four weeks long and involve students and faculty traveling together and working as a team with their peers in other countries. Program participants engage in learning about real world problems in local contexts. Students and faculty have worked together to study issues related to water quality, environmental journalism, grazing land management, nuclear energy impacts, and small mammal populations. Participants are able to experience and learn about real issues facing humans and environments in a variety of settings.

Exchange participants learning about ecology and environmental issues during a canoe trip on the Kaw River, Kansas

Exchange participants learning about environmental issues

facing the Kaw River during a canoe trip in Kansas

University-sponsored short-term international field study is a mechanism for globalizing the university educational experience and for engaging students for whom traditional study abroad programs aren’t feasible or possible. Much can be gained from participating in these types of activities, not only by students, but also by the faculty, institutions and communities involved. The short duration and subsequently smaller commitment of time and money make this type of program more realistic and attainable for students who don't traditionally participate in study abroad programs. We've found this model to be quite effective for involving Native American undergraduate students, a group with traditionally low rates of participation in international programs.

Students and faculty from NAU, KU, and GASU during biology fieldwork in the Altai Republic, Russia

Students and faculty from NAU, KU, and GASU during

biology fieldwork in the Altai Republic, Russian Federation

Our programs incorporate elements of inquiry-based learning as our approach utilizes "real world" data and situations, is flexible and open, utilizes the varied skills from a number of different fields, and views faculty as co-learners who guide the experience. This approach helps to develop the problem solving and critical thinking skills of students, provides experience in group collaboration, as well as giving them a high degree of responsibility for their own learning. As program administrators, we also strive to teach our students about how to develop rich and mutually beneficial collaborations by modeling such relationships ourselves. Our programs are administered jointly by staff from both countries and decisions about activities and the directions of our work are made cooperatively.

Several students involved in our short-term international field study experiences have been successful at obtaining their own funding for continued research (most notably through the National Security Education Program's undergraduate and graduate fellowships). Student participants routinuely incorporate their short-term experiences into subsequent graduate research.

Learn more about the activities and accomplishments of this program by exploring the links below:


More detailed description and analysis of our short-term international field-study program are available in the following publications:

Calhoon, J. A., et. al., Creating Meaningful Study Abroad Programs for American Indian Postsecondary Students. Journal of American Indian Education v. 42 no. 1 (2003) p. 46-57. (PDF)

Griswold, W.M. and V.N. Lukyanenko. (2007). From Siberia to Kansas and back: Local impacts of international collaboration between universities. The Altai: Problems in bilingualism in multicultural spaces. (PDF)


For more information about the short-term international field-study program, please contact:

Wendy Griswold
Telephone: (785) 532-6519
Fax: (785) 532-5985