SPAN and its legacy
SPAN, the Student Project for Amity among Nations offers students from all Minnesota colleges and universities an opportunity to travel to intriguing destinations. More importantly, the program gives students the opportunity to design and carry out a unique research project and study abroad experience. With help from knowledgeable academic advisors, students choose an individual topic to research and explore and ultimately write extensively about.
Preparing to go abroad
Before departure, students decide what subject they want to pursue. SPAN students gather background information, initiate professional and personal contacts within his/her host country, and arrange in advance to meet and visit with experts in the chosen research field. At regularly scheduled meetings throughout fall and spring semester, SPANners (as they have come to be called) get together with other would-be travel-mates and their SPAN faculty advisor. Together the students and advisor further prepare for their summer abroad by examining the history, culture, language, and current events of the prospective host countries. Students make their own arrangements for travel and accommodations. Every SPAN participant is eligible to receive a SPAN scholarship.
A summer overseas & project completion
SPANners spend two months in their host countries enjoying sightseeing, recreation, and being fully immersed in a culture different than their own. At the same time, the students are conducting research, visiting libraries, and interviewing experts relevant to their individual research topics. Formal language learning may also be incorporated into the students overseas day-to-day activities.
Once stateside, SPANners organize and compile their research findings. The final SPAN project paper (50-pages in length) is similar to a master’s thesis. For their work, students are awarded eight University of Minnesota academic credits (Courses: FSSP 5960 and 5970). For U students, four of these credits can be used toward meeting the WI, or writing intensive requirement. The credits can also count toward meeting the U’s global perspective requirements.
The Student Project for Amity among Nation is open to students from all Minnesota colleges and universities and was Minnesota’s first study and research abroad program. Since SPAN’s inception in 1947, nearly 3,000 students have visited 80 countries on six continents.
For nearly 70 years, students have kept the SPAN organization alive by getting involved in day-to-day office or outreach activities, connecting with former SPANners and alumni, and speaking on behalf of the Student Project for Amity among Nations. The program is one of the most affordable and cost-effective opportunities for undergraduate research; it survives on a shoestring budget, thanks to volunteer efforts of students and alumni.