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Narrative instructions for full proposal

Please address, in order, the seven categories outlined below. The organization of each category is open and depends on the specifics of your program. The questions reflect the information the review team is looking for. Please feel free to ask for help and share drafts with your college representative and OSA staff. Refer to "Learning Goals" for ideas on how study abroad can add value to an MSU education.

  1. Background Considerations: Rationale, Viability, Sustainability
  2. Academic Profile
  3. Program Site
  4. Safety, Security and Health
  5. Administration
  6. Student Learning and Development
  7. Markers of Success

Note: Reference to the respective Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad Programs (The Forum on Education Abroad) is provided in parentheses following each category header.

I. Background Considerations: Rationale, Viability, Sustainability (1a, 1b, 1c, 3b, 4a, 6a, 7b, 7c, 9f)

  1. What are the proposed program's goals, objectives, and expected academic and experiential student learning outcomes? How do the program learning outcomes support college / department strategies for study abroad? How is the proposed length of the program conducive to achieving the stated learning outcomes? How is the site chosen appropriate for the focus of the program? (N.B. Preference is given to longer programs when feasible. Across MSU's large catalog of faculty-led programs, the mean is 1.5 credits per week. Many of our successful programs are based on a 6-week model offering 9 credits.) How are the number of proposed sites to visit, their geographical proximity to each other and the time spent travelling between them conducive to achieving the stated learning outcomes?
  2. Keep in mind that MSU already offers over 300 study abroad programs. Please consult the program search function on the OSA website to identify other programs with similar academic content and/or in the same region. OSA can assist with data on enrollment trends. Please describe any discussions you have had with your college(s) and other program leader(s) regarding competition or potential collaboration with existing programs.
  3. Address the following issues:
    1. What is your best substantiated estimate of likely student enrollment initially and in subsequent years?
    2. What is the minimum enrollment needed to cover costs?
    3. Who are the primary person(s) taking responsibility for recruiting students? What is your recruitment plan (list enrollment in targeted majors, plans for program promotion, etc.)?
    4. Once the program is up and running, could its capacity be expanded to include additional fields of study? (optional)

Program Budget. The OSA coordinator for your program's region can assist you in developing the program budget, as well as your college's dean's designee. As a public institution, MSU strives to offer the highest quality international learning experiences to our students at the most reasonable cost. 75% of MSU students who study abroad receive some form of financial aid. However, for most students, gift aid covers only 25% of their total costs. A number of factors can affect program cost, such as number and location of excursions, type of accommodations, number of program leaders. For example, including more than one faculty member for each 12-15 planned participants can add significantly to the cost of a program. This is sometimes necessary to meet the pedagogical goals of your college's program model. For field-based programs, this can also be necessary for risk management. Your college representative as well as OSA can provide averages for your college and region. In addition to including a detailed budget proposal, please address how the proposed cost/value ratio reflects your college's strategy.

II. Academic Profile (2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3e, 3f, 3g, 3h, 3j, 7d, 7e)
Appropriate approval from each department and college offering credit on this program is required.

  1. Academic program
    1. What is / are the proposed program's:
      1. subject matter?
      2. academic learning outcomes?
      3. instructional models?
      4. plans to incorporate foreign language coursework into the program, if applicable?
    2. Does the proposed program offer experiential opportunities? If offered for credit, do internships, community engagement, service learning and field research have appropriate academic and field supervision?
    3. How will field trips, host-institution faculty, and aspects of the host culture and environment complement and be integrated into the academic program and courses?
      1. What are the nature and level of contacts already made (e.g., guest lectures, guided tours, company visits, etc.)?
      2. What are the credentials of host country faculty/speakers?
      3. How many contact hours will be provided through field experiences?
      4. What, if any, are your plans for internships, service learning and community engagement?
    4. How does the program seek to integrate student overseas learning with requirements and learning at MSU? Specifically, how can:
      1. university, college, and major requirements prepare students for this study abroad experience?;
      2. credits earned on this study abroad experience be used to fulfill university, college, and major requirements (as determined by the relevant academic units)?;
      3. this study abroad program enhance the value of student's degrees?; and
      4. this study abroad experience be reintegrated into the on-campus curriculum and learning environments, as well as career planning, when students return to campus?
    5. What are the MSU course titles, codes, and numbers that will be taught on-site? What is the total number of contact hours provided (in-class and on field trips)? Include draft syllabi for all offered courses.

    Note on Academic Credit: Each academic credit requires a minimum of 14 contact hours. Field trips that are directly related to the academic objectives of the program, as described in course syllabi, may be counted on a 2:1 ratio, e.g. 2 hours of guided field trip = 1 hour of classroom contact. 2 hours of 'study time' must be available to students for each daily contact hour. Total contact hours cannot exceed six in one day. For more information, please refer to the chapter on Course Administration in the online Study Abroad Program Leader Guide under Academic Preparation. There, you can also find important information on policies regarding the use of IAH and ISS courses on your program.

  2. Program Leader Linguistic and Cultural Background/Profile
    1. What is/are the program leader(s)' prior experience in the host country/region and, if the official language is not English, level of foreign language proficiency? If program leaders have little or no applicable foreign language ability, how will this barrier be overcome? NB: Program leaders should understand that, especially for short-term programs, the entire experience in the host culture forms the class.
    2. Please provide program leader bio.
  3. Research Opportunities
    1. How does the program contribute to a program leader's &/or department's research agenda (optional)?
    2. Does the program offer research opportunities for undergraduate students (optional)?
  4. Student Profile
    1. What are the minimally required, as well as desirable, prerequisites and student qualifications for participation in the program?
    2. What are the program's physical requirements along a scale of "regular", "strenuous" or "very strenuous"?

III. Program Site (2c, 2e, 3i, 5c, 7m, 7n, 7o, 7p, 9c)

  1. What is the proposed program's physical environment?
    1. Student accommodations? Programs involving homestays may require additional information. Please discuss this option with OSA staff.
    2. Meal arrangements?
    3. Availability of accessible grocery/daily incidentals shopping?
    4. Availability of public transportation?
    5. Accessibility and services for students with disabilities?
    6. Availability of computer labs and internet access?
    7. Availability of libraries?
    8. Available student services?
      1. on-site/arrival orientation?
      2. health care providers, counseling services?
      3. emergency assistance?
      4. registration/enrollment assistance (co-sponsored programs only)?
      5. assistance with locating safe and affordable housing (for students and program leaders)?
      6. other services?
    9. Other relevant aspects?
  2. Cultural Engagement, Learning and Sensitivity
    1. What types of activities exist to help students learn about the new culture (e.g., attendance at local events, fairs, festivals, visits to local museums, historical sites of interest, etc.)?
    2. What opportunities exist for students to interact with people from the host country (e.g., homestay accommodations, local students, guest lecturers, etc.)?
    3. How will students be encouraged to reflect on their cross-cultural learning development (e.g., reflective essays, journals, debriefing sessions, etc.)?
    4. How does the program demonstrate sensitivity to and respect for differences between local cultural norms and those of the home culture?
      1. What are the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the program on the local community? How will the program endeavor to create a relationship that is mutually beneficial, and minimize any negative effects on the host society?
      2. What are the plans for offering effective orientation to students so that they are aware of applicable host and home country ethical and legal practices, and so that they understand the host society, in order to avoid actions that negatively impact that society or the image of the host country?
      3. How does the program consider and respond to local environmental, economic, and cultural consequences of its presence (or disappearance) in the design and management of its activities?

IV. Safety, Security and Health (7i, 7j, 7k, 8a, 8b, 8c, 8g, 8j, 8k)

Risk management is a crucial component in our review of program proposals. Please consult the Faculty and Advisers section of OSA's website for applicable policies and procedures. In particular review Emergency Procedures and Health, safety and security. OSA's International Health and Safety Analyst ( can assist you with questions on this section as well as provide examples.

The semester prior to a program's scheduled departure, all program leaders are require to participate in OSA's Emergency Preparedness and Response training to learn about our established protocols for emergency management, including how to access the 24/7 International Emergency Assistance phone line.

  1. Safety and Security: The program follows appropriate safety and security policies. The proposal should demonstrate leaders' clear understanding of the risk environment. Please review the following resources to understand the risk environment of each country in the itinerary:
    1. U.S. Department of State Country Information Sheets
    2. Applicable U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts or Travel Warnings (if the program itinerary includes a country under a current U.S. State Department Travel Warning, additional review requirements apply. See OSA's Travel Warning policies, then the International Analyst for more information.
    3. the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety Reports (current or prior year).

    Upon review of this information and after consulting with on-site colleagues or contacts about risks, explicitly identify the risks inherent to your program for the following categories:

    1. Terrorism/civil unrest
    2. Crime/criminal activity
    3. Water safety
    4. Other identified risks
    5. Transportation (public, private and pedestrian - with special attention to any program-organized group transportation)
    6. Foreseeable natural disasters (relevant to that location)

    For each identified risk, identify the steps to be taken to mitigate these risks through such things as program design, education or orientation, scheduling, security procedures or planning.

    Emergency action plans in the event of terrorism, civil unrest or natural disaster are always a good idea in this day and age. Even in countries that appear to have a low level of risk, bad things can happen. Please take a moment to consider the emergency action plan that would best support your program. Emergency action plans would include consolidation points, shelter in place and evacuation methods. Do not always depend upon the US Embassy for a safe haven or evacuation location because if you are evacuating, chances are they are too. See the OSA recommendation for writing an emergency action plan.

  2. Health: The program leadership is aware that there may be health issues that will arise during the program and is well prepared to handle student, faculty, and staff health issues. The proposal should address leaders' understanding of Health, safety and security information OSA provides online as well as OSA's recommendations regarding medical advice. This information should be shared with all participants during pre-departure orientations.

    Please review the following resources to understand the risk environment of each country in the itinerary:

    1. U.S. Department of State Country Information Sheets, Travel Alerts and Recent Emergency Messages
    2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention
    3. MSU Travel Clinic Website

    Upon review of this information, and after consulting with Travel Clinic staff if necessary, explicitly identify the risks inherent to your program for the following categories:

    1. Health risks in the locations of travel
    2. Activities that may put an individual's health at risk

    Identify your program's physical requirements along a scale of "regular", "strenuous" or "very strenuous". Some of the important risks to help identify the physical requirements include, but are not limited to, the altitude of the program; amount of hiking, walking, climbing or swimming; and air quality. Keep in mind that many students may have physical disabilities, pre-existing health conditions or mental health issues that only the Travel Clinic will know. This information will aid the Travel Clinic in its review of student health assessments, and assist with responding to health related issues.

  3. Local Resources: The program has contact information at the location to assist with emergencies and health and safety issues, including the police, U.S. overseas representatives, physicians, hospitals, and mental health professionals. The proposal must provide:

    1. The name of a high-quality hospital or clinic in each travel location. These can be located in GeoBlue's (formerly HTH) Worldwide Provider Database. If the location is secluded, also ask GeoBlue (formerly HTH Worldwide) about medivac plans and resources. Include availability of mental health resources as well as services for victims of sexual assault. The International Health and Safety Analyst can assist with getting this data.
    2. The name, street address, city, country, office and cell phone, fax and e-mail for a chief contact if there is only one program leader (in case the program leader is unable to lead the program). For example, such individuals may be from a third-party provider, non-governmental organization, institution of higher education, or local tour guide.
    3. The country's or countries' equivalent to 911 (if applicable). This information is available in the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety Reports. It can also be found on online via Wikipedia's Emergency telephone number page or in the Country Specific Information from the US State Department.
    4. The nearest embassy or consulate in each program location. This information is available though the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) under Post Information.

V. Administration (5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, 6a, 6e, 7a)

  1. Pre-departure:
    1. Are visas required for U.S. citizens?
    2. How will any pre-departure activities (if any) be organized?
    3. Who will serve as point person to the Office of Study Abroad regional coordinator (e.g., developing program cost, developing program informational sheet, paying invoices, etc.)?
    4. Who will be responsible for student advising?
    5. Student selection
      1. Who will review student applications?
      2. Will an interview be required?
      3. Will an essay be required?
      4. How will non-MSU student applications considered?
  2. On-site:
    1. What, if any, non-academic on-site support exists?
    2. How will on-site disciplinary issues be handled?
    3. Who will be the chief of party?
  3. Post-return:
    1. How will any post-return activities (if any) be organized?
    2. Who will take responsibility for post-program financial reconciliation?

VI. Student Learning & Development (2a, 2c, 2d)

  1. What pre-departure preparation will students receive in addition to the generic/general online orientation program provided by OSA?
  2. What post-program activities/events are planned to help students process their study abroad experience?
  3. How will students' cross-cultural learning be facilitated on-site (e.g., interaction with locals, cultural "debriefing" sessions on site, reflective essays, etc.)?
  4. How does the program provide opportunities that encourage student development (e.g., leadership skills, service orientation, maturity, tolerance for ambiguity, growth in cultural awareness, academic growth)?
  5. How does the program address MSU's Liberal Learning and Global Competencies goals (refer to Goals of Study Abroad (PDF)*)?

VII. Markers of Success (2f, 7q)

  1. How will the sponsoring department and/or college evaluate the program and assess the intended student learning outcomes? (Consider available sources of information such as SOCT, SIRS, study abroad / college-level / program-specific evaluation forms, Liberal Learning Goals, Global Competencies, etc.)

Please note that proposals are considered incomplete until all sections are received. Please feel free to discuss drafts with your college representative and OSA staff.

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