Best Practices in Field Studies Abroad
Seminar on Risk, Safety and Sustainability
From 3 – 9 June 2019, a diverse cohort of faculty members, study abroad officials and providers from the US and Africa joined forces to embark on a Best Practices in Field Studies Abroad seminar in Kenya. The first seminar (which has already drawn interest in being run again in 2020) was hosted jointly by EDU Africa and Dr Geoff Bradshaw and explored three pivotal pillars in creating transformational study abroad programs: risk, health and safety, and sustainability.
Aligned Interests: Dr Bradshaw, CCSDN and EDU Africa
Dr Bradshaw has over 20 years’ experience in study abroad and is the Director of International Education at Madison Area Technical College. He has done extensive work with the Community Colleges Sustainable Development Network (CCSDN) to develop the international portfolios of community colleges, both in terms of providing professional development and capacity-building opportunities for faculty members, and in expanding opportunities for students. At its core, the CCSDN is committed to the transformative capacity of study abroad, a concept we at EDU Africa are similarly committed to with our brand of “transformative learning journeys”. It thus made sense for EDU Africa and Dr Bradshaw to come together to present this seminar, providing participants with the experiential learning opportunities they themselves would like their students to experience and the tools and resources to manage risk, health, safety, and sustainability in the context of the ‘Global South’.
The Seminar: Opportunities and Benefits
The seminar ran over a week-long period, and was divided between EDU Africa’s base in Kenya, Brackenhurst in Limuru, and the Maasai Mara. During our time in Limuru, we covered a great deal of theoretical information, pouring over approaches to health and safety, belabouring sustainability with regards to host community engagements and the environment, working through case studies, and developing risk assessment plans. The resources shared were immensely valuable – each participant received access to a folder containing material on various facets of the study abroad process, from pre-departure and orientation materials, to examples of student contracts, global competency aids, and insurance and crisis response advice. Participants also had the opportunity to meet with three of EDU Africa’s community partners in Limuru and ask important questions regarding student impact on their projects and the ethics of international engagement in Africa.
One of the highlights of the seminar was the time spent at Naboisho Conservancy, an extraordinary model of conservation benefitting both people and wildlife in the Maasai Mara. Going on safari is invariably a magical experience. More importantly, however, participants confronted the risk factors of studying abroad in such locations, and were encouraged to think critically about the relationship between tourism (and voluntourism) and local environments and ecosystems, to analyze conservation models, and to visit sustainable community development initiatives in and around the area.
Instead of just managing a study abroad program or speaking about abstract notions of sustainable engagement from afar, attendees had the opportunity to witness, access and discuss these experiences first-hand as a group. This resulted in an incredibly collaborative opportunity for providers, faculty and study abroad professionals to discuss new programming ideas and debate various ways of improving the quality, efficacy, safety, and longevity of transformational study abroad experiences for all involved as well.
Contact us if you are interested in joining the Best Practices in Field Studies Abroad seminar in 2020.
Julia diLiberti, College of DuPage
The seminar at Brackenhurst Kenya significantly shifted my perspective on the directions in which study abroad could go and how study abroad can contribute to a community rather than just take from it. It has suggested new models, addressed risks and how to balance those, and has given me such a new outlook I have, in the two days I have been back, already contacted 14 colleagues whose disciplines/courses I felt would immediately connect to EDU's vision of learning and sustainability.
Brandon Cromer, Augusta University
The workshop by Dr. Bradshaw was wonderfully planned and executed. Dr. Bradshaw is extremely knowledgeable and experienced in study abroad planning. The workshop was informative and will be helpful when I design my next program. The logistics were very well managed by EDU Africa. The EDU Africa staff were professional and expertly qualified. I would emphatically endorse this workshop to others.
All the seminar sessions added great value. Generally the course was very well structured and planned with sessions building on from one another.