Skip to main content

Seed Grants Set up New Study Abroad Opportunities for Students

Thursday, Dec. 02, 2010

students in China

USU students in China as part of a summer study abroad program.

students in Costa Rica

Students in the College of Natural Resources traveled to Costa Rica to understand the diversity of tropical rain forests and associated natural resources.

Utah State University has an active Study Abroad program, with student opportunities available in more than 150 partner institutions around the world. The program is expanding more every day, it seems, and the university’s International Education Office of Global Engagement is pitching in more money to tap into the relationships faculty already have around the globe.

More than $80,000 in seed-grant funds were awarded this year to help faculty establish eight new study-abroad options and eight international curriculum programs, according to Mary S. Hubbard, vice provost for International Education in the Office of Global Engagement.

Four faculty members served as a committee to work with the vice provost on the development and guidelines for the new USU Seed Grant Programs. 

“We had a good response, and I'm excited about the new international exposure that will result for our students both on and off campus,” Hubbard said. 

The committee initially received 13 applications with requests totaling $86,708.50 for the Study Abroad grants, and 11 applications requesting a total of $61,812.50 for the Curriculum Development grants.

The committee members made recommendations, and Hubbard coupled these recommendations with programmatic and strategic considerations before making final decisions on the funding. The result is an effort to provide opportunities in a variety of countries around the globe and for majors from all of the USU colleges. The team also considered regions where USU is working to establish a strategic presence.

“I am thrilled to see this initiative turn into a reality,” said Raymond T. Coward, USU’s executive vice president and provost. “We certainly want the students to know that their Tier II monies are being used to create more, and better, international educational programs and experiences for them.”

A summary of the funded projects is presented below:


Slovenia (Stephen Bialkowski, Chemistry and Biochemistry)

  • Dr. Bialkowski proposes to develop an international experience in Slovenia for students with an interest in environmental studies. He also plans to work with faculty at the University of Nova Gorica to develop course content for the program.

Mexico (Lillian Duran, Special Education and Rehabilitation)

  • Dr. Duran is developing a short term experience in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for students majoring in Special Education and Communication Disorders. The goals of this experience are to expose students to the services provided to disabled children in Mexico and to provide students with a cultural understanding that will serve them as they work with Mexican families in Cache Valley.

Thailand (David Hole, Roger Kjelgren, Paul Grossl, and Paul Johnson, Plant, Soils, and Climate)

  • This faculty team plans to take USU students to Thailand to work with Thai students on understanding ecological diversity in world food systems. Kasetsart University will partner on this experience. In Thailand the group will explore tropical food production systems from the soil to the table.

Costa Rica (James Long and Samuel Rivera, Wildland Resources)

  • Drs. Long and Rivera are developing a program in Costa Rica for students interested in forestry and environmental issues. This program will be based in the tropical rain forest and will focus on natural and cultural resources.

China (Christopher Morgan, Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology)

  • Dr. Morgan is developing a study abroad experience for students of archaeology who wish to gain field experience in the Loess Plateau region of western China. Lanzhou University will partner on the experience. This group will examine prehistoric human-land relationships in this area.

Japan (Atsuko Neely, Languages, Philosophy, and Speech Communication)

  • Neely plans to take USU students to Japan to develop language skills and study the Japanese culture. She will investigate potential partner universities who are part of the Global 30 initiative that focuses on growth in international cooperation.

Mexico (Gary Parnell, Teacher Education and Leadership)

  • Dr. Parnell is developing a program that will take pre-service teachers to a small village in Mexico to visit elementary schools and to work with local teachers. Students will also visit the teacher preparation programs at the University of Colima and would participate in a service-learning project.

Italy (Susan Shapiro, Richard Clement, and Phil Parisi, History)

  • This faculty team plans to take students to Italy to study history, art, architecture, classics, and language in a Mediterranean setting. The team brings expertise in history, Mediterranean studies, and Italian language.



Steven Camicia, Teacher Education and Leadership

  • Dr. Camicia seeks to transform a course entitled “Improvement of Social Studies Instruction” by introducing international perspectives as an organizing principle. To do this Dr. Camicia will bring Dr. Alfredo Bayon from Southern Leyte State University in the Philippines to USU as an expert in social studies curriculum.

Dr. Huiyun Feng, Political Science

  • Dr. Feng will develop a new course called “Films and Politics in Asia.” She plans to use the award to pay for her time during the summer that she will spend on course development.

Dr. Kai He, Political Science

  • Dr. He will develop a new course entitled “US-China Relations – Politics, Economics, and Diplomacy. Dr. He will visit the Harvard Fairbank Center for Asian Studies to collect course materials.

Dr. Kerry Jordan, Psychology

  • Dr. Jordan plans to add international content to an existing course entitled “Advanced Development.” New course materials will come from interaction with psychologists from around the world at a conference in Zambia. Additional materials will come from library research.

Dr. Ann Laudati, Environment and Society

  • Dr. Laudati will use time in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda to enhance her course called “Violent Environments: Linking Natural Resources and Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.” She proposes to develop contacts so that students can use technology to video conference or utilize pre-recorded oral interviews.

Dr. Caroline Lavoie and Dr. Licon, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

  • Drs. Lavoie and Licon plan to introduce and international design component to courses entitled “Emerging Areas in Landscape Architecture I and II.” Both faculty have connections to a university in Mexico, Tec de Monterrey, and they plan to utilize this connection to develop international design projects and ultimately to build reciprocal visits from faculty and students.

Dr. Cinthya Saavedra, Teacher Education and Leadership

  • Dr. Saavedra will be internationalizing curriculum in two existing classes: “Second Language Acquisition in the Classroom” and “Diversity in Education.” She also plans to develop a new class with global content called “Children, Education and Globalization.” To develop course content she will attend a summer institute in Spain at The Center of Study and Investigation of Global Dialogues.

Dr. Felix Tweraser, Languages, Philosophy, Speech and Communication

  • Dr. Tweraser plans to develop a course on “Turn-of-the-Century Vienna.” The course will be taught in German as a capstone course for majors or minors. To gather course material, he will spend two weeks in Vienna.

Writer: Andy Yerka,, 320-224-1296

Contact: Tim Vitale,, 435-797-1356 

Post your Comment

We welcome your response. Your comment or question will be forwarded to the appropriate person. Please be sure to provide a valid email address so we can contact you, if needed. Your submission will NOT be published online. Thank you.

More News

All news


Utah State Today is available as a weekly e-mail update, with links to news, features, and events. Subscribers stay connected, whether on campus or off.

To receive Utah State Today every week, simply enter your e-mail address below.

Unsubscribe here.

Visit our social media hub

Visit our social media hub to see a snapshot of student life and find more USU social media accounts.

Learn more About USU