Amherst has a long history of supporting courses that include travel. These experiences enrich learning in various ways—for example, by connecting scholarship to the world beyond the classroom and by offering students a chance to see performances, visit archives, or to undertake field work. Funding is available to extend these experiences, as an integral part of a small number of courses, to include travel abroad and/or to domestic locations that are some distance from Amherst. Funding has been offered for at least three courses each year, with enrollments, normally, of up to twelve students in each, in any discipline. Preference is given to proposals for courses with embedded travel that have not been offered previously, though proposals for such courses that have been offered before are also welcome. (There should be at least one year in between when a course is first offered and when it is offered again.) The travel component of these courses should include opportunities for learning by doing and be fully integrated into the course. These courses must take place either during interterm or spring break, or possibly at the end of the semester in which the course is offered. Read about some of these courses online.
The provost and dean of the faculty solicits proposals for these courses on an annual basis. Proposals must include the three components described below. Faculty are strongly encouraged to discuss the logistics of their travel plans with Janna Behrens, director of global education, at least two weeks in advance of submitting their proposal.
- Description of the Course
Colleagues interested in offering one of these courses are asked to submit a one-page proposal describing the course, including the goals of travel and cultural activities that enhance the course. Activities should be designed to connect students with their surroundings outside the classroom where they learn about the history and culture of the host country. Attention should be paid to how students might navigate social identities in a new cultural context.
- Budget and Logistics
Proposals must include a detailed budget (see the template here). Trip leaders can consult with Steven Hegarty, director of academic finance, and Janna Behrens, director of global education, with questions about their budget at least two weeks in advance of submitting their proposal. Again, faculty are strongly encouraged to discuss the logistics of their travel plans with the Office of Global Education at least two weeks in advance of submitting their proposal. Faculty interested in working with a local program provider should consult with the Office of Global Education about the services and costs associated with the services they can provide, e.g., arrange onsite transportation, meals, housing, emergency support, guest lectures from local university faculty, excursions.
- Provide the Following Information about Health and Safety
After reading the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory and the CDC’s travel health notice for the trip’s destination(s), describe your understanding of the risks associated with travel to this destination(s) and the ways in which you plan to mitigate these risks. Assuming COVID protocols may need to be followed, describe the contingency plans you will have in place, e.g., isolation/quarantine, positive tests of trip participants, inability to travel due to illness.
Faculty whose proposals are selected are expected to do the following:
- Draft a trip fact sheet to be shared with students interested in the course. The trip fact sheet describes the trip activities, academic and personal expectations of students, and physical activity for the duration of the trip. Trip fact sheets help students from varying backgrounds (e.g., health needs, financial means, physical mobility, prior travel experience and international exposure) determine if they can meet the expectations of the trip. The director of global education can share sample trip fact sheets.
- Liaise with the Office of Global Education at least six-to-nine months in advance of travel to plan accordingly, e.g., identify a local partner, if desirable, to manage the onsite logistics; establish student support structures; develop an emergency response plan; create a trip fact sheet to advertise the course during pre-registration.
- Faculty working with a provider must have the contract reviewed by the college’s general counsel.
- Review the trip’s finalized budget with the director of academic finance. Learn how funds will be dispersed. Cash advances require at least two weeks to process.
- Consult with Five College Risk Management for appropriate waivers and risk forms.
- Share your class list with the Office of Student Affairs and Case Management. Students will be required to plan for their health needs with the Keefe Health Center and/or the Counseling Center. Students may be asked to complete an online health history form on the Keefe Health Center website to assist in planning for travel.
- Become familiar with the college’s policies related to travel, i.e., the college’s student travel policy, the trip leader guest travel policy (available soon).
- Provide pre-departure orientation and onsite orientation for trip participants. The Office of Global Education can assist with communicating information about emergency medical assist insurance, reporting incidents (e.g., Title IX), responding to emergencies, Amherst’s Student Code of Conduct, etc. Pre-departure orientation should occur at least two weeks prior to travel in order for students who need additional health support to have sufficient time to plan with their health providers. If a local provider is used, they will deliver a thorough onsite orientation.
- Trip leaders are strongly encouraged to attend the Five College International Trip Leader Workshop offered by Five College Risk Management in partnership with the global education offices of Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith. Contact the director of global education for details.
Finances and Budgeting
What expenses should I consider when drafting my budget?
Trip leaders are strongly encouraged to use this template to estimate expenses. If you plan to use a program provider, many of the line items will be covered by them.
Is there a limit to out-of-pocket student costs?
Generally speaking, there should be little or no required out-of-pocket costs to students. If there is minimal cost to trip participants (e.g., <$200), be sure to include it in your trip fact sheet and note that if any student is unable to participate due to cost that they should contact you. Please contact Steven Hegarty, director of academic finance in the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, on making funds available for these circumstances.
Is per diem available for students to pay for meals that are covered by the college?
Per diem, to cover meals and incidental expenses, may be available with permission from the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty. (Contact Steven Hegarty, director of academic finance.) Please request this well in advance of the trip, e.g., six weeks. If per diem is granted, it is best to disperse money daily to each student rather than once for the duration of the trip. Students will be expected to sign for the funds they receive, and confirm they will only use the funds for the intended purpose.
How do I pay for trip expenses, e.g., meals?
You may pay out-of-pocket for trip expenses and be reimbursed by the college, assuming you have receipts for all expenses. (In regions of the world or for expenses that do not have receipts, please keep a log of your expenses.) You may also request a cash advance from Abby O’Connor in the Controller’s Office but you must make the request at least two weeks in advance. If you would like to request a cash advance in a different currency, please talk with the Controller, Stephen Nigro, about what might be available, at least three weeks in advance.
How am I reimbursed for trip expenses?
Submit reimbursements through your ADC as you normally would. The trip account number is available from Steven Hegarty, director of academic finance.
My trip includes guest lecturers. How do these individuals receive their honorarium?
Individuals or organizations that are to be paid by the college need to submit the required tax forms. Please note that service payments are not reimbursable and all service providers need to be paid directly by the college.
Are five college students allowed to participate in the trip?
These trips are intended for Amherst students, which includes exchange students from our partner schools (e.g., Yale-NUS College, The American University of Beirut). Please contact the provost and dean of the faculty if you would like to discuss participation of a five college student.
Are graduated seniors able to participate in the trip?
No. Once students become alumni of the college, their ability to utilize college resources changes. Students who have officially graduated from the college are not able to participate in college-funded trips.
Can I make a class trip required?
The college recommends that you make trips optional. If the trip adds significantly to the course, you can let students know it is expected that they participate. However, if a student has an extenuating circumstance such as a particular health concern or disciplinary issue, it is best that the student not feel as though they are required to participate. This is especially important if participation may aggravate a student’s situation.
However, to encourage students to remain committed to the trip, you may want to have academic work related to some aspects of the trip activities. Students’ schedules often have competing priorities and there may be non-emergency events that arise (e.g., athletic activities) that, to a student, may take priority over the trip – and perhaps at the last minute. Graded components of a trip are excellent incentives for participation and for students to continue to be good ambassadors for the college.
How do I select students for my trip?
It depends on the length of the trip. For longer trips, it is recommended that there be a transparent selection process. The process can include a written personal statement, previous coursework, and/or an interview with the trip leaders. The selection process should offer students an opportunity to discuss what they understand of the expectations of the trip (academic as well as physical).
May I ask students to share a signed confirmation of their participation in the trip?
It is not recommended that trip leaders have a written commitment from students to participate in the trip. Trip leaders may want to have one component of the trip contribute to the course grade, e.g., reflection paper, research, which may be one way of encouraging participation.
How do I prepare students for travel?
You may have students with a range of travel experience attending your trip. Providing an orientation, pre-departure and on-site, that addresses the range of experiences your students may have will be important to the success of your group. Since it is possible, even likely, that you will have trip participants that are first-time travelers, providing more information on a wide range of topics is best. The Office of Global Education is more than happy to help faculty members with orientations!
What if students (and trip leaders) need a visa or other document to travel?
Travelers are responsible for obtaining their own visa. When the visa process may be cumbersome, trip leaders may want to consider utilizing the services of a company, such as Travisa or CIBT. Note that not all travelers may need a visa. In many instances, travelers with U.S. passports will not need a visa but non-U.S. citizens will.
I have international students on my trip. What additional steps may they need to take?
International students should consult with the Office of Immigration Services well in advance of the trip (at least four weeks, preferably longer) to have their I-20 noted of the international travel.
What if students on my trip need a passport?
Students need to have a passport valid for at least six months past the end date of the trip. Students who need to renew or apply for a new U.S. passport should visit the State Department’s website. Passport costs are, in most cases, the responsibility of the traveler. If a high need student is unable to participate in the trip because they cannot afford to obtain a passport, please contact Associate Provost and Associate Dean of the Faculty Jack Cheney. Students are encouraged to apply or renew their passport, if necessary, at least three months in advance of travel given processing delays by the U.S. State Department.
There are required and recommended immunizations for the destination of my trip. How do travelers get vaccinated?
The Amherst Health Center is able to administer a wide range of vaccinations, but most often with advance notice. Under most instances, immunizations are at the expense of the traveler and in many instances health insurance covers required and recommended vaccinations. Trip leaders should review any required and recommended vaccinations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Travelers should check with their health care provider and the Amherst Health Center at least two months before travel. For students who are immunocompromised and/or have not been vaccinated by choice, please speak with the Office of Global Education and Five College Risk Management about whether travel for the participants is recommended.
Transportation and Travel Planning
What modes of transportation should I use?
For local trips, the college has used several coach buses that can invoice the college. Check with your ADC for recommendations. In urban areas, using public transportation may be best. Be sure to confirm accessibility of public transport stations you may use, should any of your students on the trip have specific mobility needs.
Renting a car is another option. There are several benefits of renting a car, such as, the rental agency maintains the condition and safety of the vehicle and may provide roadside assistance. If you anticipate students driving, the student who rents the vehicle would be covered by the college’s insurance policy assuming that the student driver is of age to rent the vehicle. Cars rented for college activities may not be used for personal travel, such as shopping trips or visiting a relative or friend. Students would need to complete Five College's required driver credentialing process.
Faculty and staff who require coverage under the auto insurance policy of the college need to complete the Five College Driver Safety process.
If using public transportation, learn what options exist for students on the trip that may have mobility issues since not all public transportation, including stations, are accessible.
For trips that require air travel, it is strongly recommended to purchase tickets through the college’s travel procurement site or a travel agency where the costs are invoiced to the college. (Please see the director of global education for agent recommendations.) When the trip budget is approved to include airfare, group flights are preferred. Students who want to change their travel dates must pay the flight change fee directly to the airline. It is highly recommended that trip leaders do not permit trip participants to travel in advance of the dates of the program.
May students arrive early and/or stay after the trip dates?
It is not recommended that students arrive in advance of the start dates of the trip, unless they are students from that country, e.g., living at home. If a student arrives early and needs support, the trip leader would need to be prepared to assist the student. If a student wants to extend their stay in the host locale, they need to understand that the college is unable to support them after the program ends. Students who want to change their travel dates need to pay the flight change fee.
How do I learn what organizations may assist me in planning and delivering my trip?
Many trip leaders opt to use a third-party provider to administer and enhance their trip. These providers often run semester and summer programs and are well-informed about local resources and are experts with trip logistics and risk management in the host location. Third-party providers have local staff who offer a level of insight that would greatly enhance the trip, and often also have expert faculty who might be able to guest lecture or offer visits to sites of cultural and historic significance. Trip leaders interested in partnering with a provider should speak to the Office of Global Education at least nine months in advance.
May students stay in their Amherst dorms until the trip departs? May they return to Amherst after the trip finishes?
For trips that occur during the academic year, students may remain in their dorm rooms. However, for trips that take place in advance or at the end of the academic year, trip leaders should consult with the Office of Residential Life as to whether students may occupy their rooms outside of the Amherst academic year. In instances whereby college housing is not available, trip leaders should review local housing options and include this expense in their budget.
What types of accommodation are recommended?
The college recommends that trip leaders book accommodation in well-known hotels, where available, as they provide a known level of comfort, security, support, and assistance to travelers. Using Airbnb and similar home-sharing sites is not recommended since these properties are not required to adhere to standards in the travel industry. Student travelers should be informed well in advance of the type of accommodation on the trip (e.g., hostels, camping, shared doubles) and that they need to notify the trip leader of any housing accommodations they may need at least two months in advance of travel. The college will make a reasonable effort to accommodate student needs, assuming the host location can meet those needs.
How do I book accommodation?
Trip leaders may use the college’s travel procurement site to book accommodation, which charges department accounts directly. An agent may also be used, and lodging often may be bundled with a group flight purchase. A trip leader may also want to book on their own and submit reimbursements.
Does the college cover international phone and data plans for trip participants?
The college covers the costs associated with an international phone and data plan for trip leaders, and trip leaders are encouraged to include these costs for student participants. When partnering with a third-party provider, the cost of a local cell phone rental may be included (upon request) in the total cost of the program. Trip leaders may also want to explore with Amherst’s IT department whether a loaner phone or computer is an option.