Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design

The Forum’s Award for Excellence in Curriculum Design honors faculty who develop and implement innovative and effective education abroad curricula. It is the education abroad field’s only award presented to an individual or group of individuals for excellence in the design of an education abroad course. By recognizing the outstanding efforts of faculty who are committed to the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, The Forum hopes to inspire the field as a whole to continue to strive for enrichment of education abroad curricula, and to continually reflect on how we may best encourage student learning abroad.

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Nominees for the Award will be judged according to how their course curriculum aligns with The Forum’s Standards of Good Practice by:

  • Providing an academically rigorous program of study;
  • Developing educational objectives that foster student learning and development, and assessing the degree to which it is accomplishing each;
  • Enriching the classroom experience through the use of the location and/or its unique resources;
  • Setting a precedent for exceptional approaches to fostering student learning.

Additional requirements:

  • Candidates must submit a completed course profile to The Forum’s Curriculum Toolbox, and must upload a course syllabus.
  • Candidates must be affiliated with a Forum member institution or organization in order to contribute to the Curriculum Toolbox and be considered for the award. Courses submitted must be administered by a Forum member institution/organization.
  • Only those individuals responsible for designing and teaching the course submitted will be eligible for the award.
  • Only submissions of individual education abroad courses will be considered for the award.
  • Only courses which have run at least once are eligible.


Awards will be granted based on curriculum alone. Submissions will not be judged on issues related to health and safety, program sustainability, etc.

2018 Award Recipient:

Markus Crepaz of University of Georgia

In celebration of International Education Week, The Forum is pleased to announced the 2018 recipient of the Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design: Markus Crepaz of the University of Georgia, for his course “The Politics of Development,” which is part of UGA’s South Africa Study Abroad Program in Stellenbosch.

Noel Fallows, Associate Provost for International Education at the University of Georgia, stated:

It is a great honor for the University of Georgia that Professor Markus Crepaz has been selected as this year’s recipient of The Forum’s Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design. The program in Stellenbosch, South Africa, integrates substantive core classes with a unique after-school program in the Kayamandi Township on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, thereby bridging the gap between theory and praxis, as our students become fully engaged in meaningful and impactful service learning projects. Markus’s work underscores the fact that the faculty-led programs at UGA are underpinned by our firm commitment to curriculum innovation and academic rigor.

The course, which has run for ten years, has strong ties to Stellenbosch University and to local NGO, Vision Afrika, enabling the students to form connections to the local community in an intentional way, with an emphasis on best practices service learning.

The Forum’s Award for Excellence in Curriculum Design honors instructors who develop and implement innovative and effective education abroad curricula. It is the education abroad field’s only award presented to an individual or group of individuals for excellence in the design of an education abroad course. By recognizing the outstanding efforts of instructors who are committed to the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, The Forum hopes to inspire the field to strive for enrichment of education abroad curricula, and to continually reflect on how to best encourage student learning abroad.

The award will be presented at The Forum’s 15th Annual Conference, Broadening the Circle of Education Abroad, in Denver on March 29, 2019, where Professor Crepaz will present a session about the course.


Markus Crepaz's professional headshot. A middle-aged man with grey hair and glasses, wearing a black suit jacket with a white shirt.Markus Crepaz is the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Political Science, Co-director of UGA Study Abroad Program in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and Professor of International Affairs. He received his Ph.D. in political science in 1992 from the University of California, San Diego. His research interests include the effects of formal political institutions on policy outcomes, the effect of immigration on the European welfare state project and identity of Europeans, the impact of globalization on the viability of the state, the logic of comparative analysis, the politics and economics of advanced industrialized democracies, the process of European Union integration, and the effects of parties and interest groups on a wide range of policy outcomes. He teaches classes in comparative methods, research design, determinants of political development, introduction to comparative analysis, and politics and economics of postindustrial societies. As a comparativist, he travels with a purpose in Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Taiwan, Cuba, Norway, Denmark, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Iceland, Spain, Japan, Fiji, and many other intriguing locations. Selected book publications include Trust Beyond Borders (2008) published by The University of Michigan Press, and European Democracies, (9th Edition, 2017) published by Routledge. His recent articles have appeared in journals such as Social Science Quarterly (2016), and Comparative Politics (2016).

»View the course profile in the Curriculum Toolbox

2017 Award Recipient:

Jim Kelly of Indiana University

In celebration of International Education Week, The Forum is pleased to announce the 2017 recipient of the Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design: James Kelly of Indiana University, for his course “Reporting HIV/AIDS in Africa.” As reporting interns at Uganda’s Daily Monitor, students in Professor Kelly’s embedded program acquire the skills to report complicated stories in a cross-cultural setting through a mix of academic work and interaction with local reporters and editors. In addition to their classroom study and internship, students benefit from a two-day seminar at the African Centre for Media Excellence and a visit to Makerere University’s journalism program to meet Ugandan students.

Kathleen Sideli, Associate Vice President for Overseas Study at Indiana University, responded with enthusiasm upon learning that Professor Kelly’s course had been selected:

I have always been amazed at the confluence of learning levels embedded in Jim Kelly’s reporting program on HIV-AIDS. Although he is ostensibly teaching students how to write journalistic articles, he opens them up to the sobering health epidemic in many ways. They develop their own compassion and understanding for the human face behind this disease which has many social and economic reverberations for those living with HIV-AIDS and their families. And working out a system by which the IU students work side-by-side with Ugandan reporters, learning from them in a real newsroom, is a significant dimension of this program. Each year I follow the student articles and photos online and am always moved by the depth of their experience. Every university should have a Jim Kelly of their own!

The award was presented at The Forum’s 14th Annual Conference, Building on Strong Foundations: Best Practices for an Evolving Field, in Boston on March 23, 2018, where Professor Kelly presented a session about the course.


Photo of Professor Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly is an Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Media School at Indiana University where he teaches photojournalism and healthcare reporting. A former newspaper and wire service photographer involved in documentary filmmaking, his research examines audience perceptions of photojournalism ethics. He is the former editor of Visual Communication Quarterly and has headed five Citizen Exchanges for the U.S. Department of State that trained working journalists in South Asia and East Africa on social issues reporting including HIV/AIDS. He is a Herman Frederic Lieber Distinguished Teaching Professor at Indiana University where he received his Ph.D. in Mass Communication in 1990.


»View the course profile in the Curriculum Toolbox

2016 Award Recipients:

Hana Cervinkova and Juliet Golden of Syracuse University

In celebration of International Education Week, The Forum is pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of the Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design: Hana Cervinkova and Juliet Golden of Syracuse University, for their course “Negotiating Identities Across Europe’s Borders,” offered as part of the Culture and Politics of Reconciliation in Central Europe program, based in Wroclaw, Poland.

Through visits to cities and villages in Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Lithuania over the course of a semester, “Negotiating Identities Across Europe’s Borders” analyzes conflict and reconciliation in European history, to better understand the reasons that the European Union was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in “the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights.”

Forum President and CEO Brian Whalen stated, “Professors Cervinkova and Golden’s important and timely course is a wonderful example of faculty innovation and creativity in education abroad.”

When informed, Professors Cervinkova and Golden responded, “We are honoured by your recognition. We have put so much heart into the development and delivery of ‘Negotiating Identities across Europe’s Borders,’ which makes this honour all that much more meaningful.”

hana.cervinkova-photoHana Cervinkova is a cultural anthropologist (PhD, New School for Social Research, 2004), an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Education and the founding director of the International Institute for the Study of Culture and Education (IISCE) at the University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw, Poland. She is the Director of the Syracuse University Study Abroad Program, the Culture and Politics of Reconciliation in Central Europe. She is the author of many articles and books that focus on transformation processes in Central Europe with particular focus on education, democratic citizenship and urban space.



Juliet-GoldenJuliet D. Golden is a core curriculum professor for a Syracuse University semester-long study abroad program The Culture and Politics of Reconciliation in Central Europe, and an instructor and co-author of an intensive summer abroad program developed for the State University of New York College at Brockport focused on the politics of memory in Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. She received her B.A. with high distinction in Political Science at Indiana University and her M.A. in International Relations from Columbia University. Her dissertation, “Learning for Critical Global Citizenship through Participatory Action Research in Urban Central Europe,” was defended with honors in 2015 at the University of Lower Silesia.


»View the course profile in the Curriculum Toolbox

2015 Award Recipient:

Maja Sbahi Biehl of DIS: Study Abroad in Scandinavia

The Forum on Education Abroad is pleased to announce the 2015 recipient of the Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design: Maja Sbahi Biehl of DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia for her course “Children in a Multicultural Context: Theory and Practice.”

Taking Nordic childhood as its entry point, “Children in a Multicultural Context” examines the following questions: “Are the long-standing childcare traditions in Denmark being challenged? How are Danish childcare institutions, schools and programs influenced by Danish integration policies? How is multicultural discourse examined in a Danish context? And how are children in Denmark influenced by these processes?”

The course profile describes how the course incorporates theory on culture and cross-cultural competence, fieldwork, writings, activities and public debates. It “stresses the connection between the class and the practicum sites by asking students to reflect on what the field experience can add to theory.” Students “acquire knowledge about intercultural learning, critical pedagogy, child development discourse and educational sociology.”

Selection committee chair, Wendy Lombardo of Arcadia University’s College of Global Studies, remarked, “What stood out in the course was the fact that while it has been taught many times over several years, the faculty has been able to keep the content current by including events happening in our world today (e.g. the Syrian Refugee Crisis). Between the topics covered in Denmark and during the study tour in Turkey, students are able to study this topic from a truly multicultural approach.”

Forum President and CEO Brian Whalen stated, “this course reflects both the distinctive learning opportunities offered by overseas study and the creative ways that faculty design and teach education abroad courses. Kudos to DIS – Study Abroad in Scandinavia and to Professor Sbahi Biehl!”

When informed, Professor Sbahi Biehl responded, “As a global citizen and multicultural individual, I am honored to receive this award, and be recognized for my passion for developing curriculum that strives to enhance cultural awareness and critical pedagogy, foster student learning through connecting theory to practice by engagement with local community, and inspire students to explore new cultural contexts and take independent steps towards global citizenship.”

Maja_Kerstin_Sbahi_Biehl_1068Maja Sbahi Biehl is the program director of the Child Development and Diversity program and faculty at DIS- Study Abroad in Scandinavia. She earned her M.A. (Cand. comm.) in Communication and Educational Studies from Roskilde University in 2004. She has developed the curriculum for her course Children in a Multicultural Context: Theory and Practice, which explores how the concepts of multiculturalism, intercultural pedagogy, multilingualism, and diversity can affect a child’s upbringing. She teaches, challenges and expands student’s perceptions of their own culture through integration and reflection on theory and practice within global educational settings. This work is supported through her background growing up in Turkey to Danish – American parents. She has also developed courses on children and technology, children’s rights, adolescence and a strong and extensive network of practicum sites for DIS students. For her courses, she has designed study tours to Turkey in addition to various locations in Denmark and in Europe. Biehl started an initiative for Refugee children and has since empowered DIS students to engage with the current Refugee crisis. She has worked for projects with children and youth in Danish childcare institutions and schools, and with DIS since 2005.

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2014 Award Recipients:

Shawn Bender, John Henson, Dave Sarcone and Shalom Staub of Dickinson College, and Yoshitaka Kumagai of Akita International University

Dickinson_AkitaIU_Interview_Pic2The Forum is pleased to announce that this year’s Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design goes to a group of faculty members from Dickinson College and Akita International University for their interdisciplinary course, “Living Well in Later Life,” offered as part of Dickinson’s U.S.-Japan Global Scholars Program. Please join us in congratulating Professors Shawn Bender, John Henson, Dave Sarcone and Shalom Staub, all of Dickinson College, and Professor Yoshitaka Kumagai of Akita International University.

“Living Well in Later Life” examines the community health of two structurally similar but geographically distant regions: Yurihonjo, Akita Prefecture, Japan; and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States. Organized jointly by Akita International University and Dickinson College, the program seeks to measure the health of these communities based on an investigation of resident “Quality of Life.” Students interact with policy makers and program specialists at multiple levels in order to understand the social, cultural, and economic factors affecting the quality of life for elderly Japanese and Americans, working in a multicultural group comprised of students from Akita International University and Dickinson College. They gather data on Quality of Life in each community using quantitative and qualitative research methods, and present their findings to community members in each location.

BenderShawn Bender is an Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at Dickinson College. He earned his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at the University of California, San Diego in 2003, and has been teaching at Dickinson since 2006. His courses focus on aspects of contemporary Japanese society, including popular culture, music, demographic change, health and aging, and technology. His current research examines discourses of demographic crisis, changes in elder care, and the development of robotics in Japan and Europe. This work has taken him both to Japan and to Europe (where some Japanese robotics technologies have found a home). His earlier ethnographic fieldwork among taiko drumming groups in Japan is the basis of his book entitled Taiko Boom: Japanese Drumming in Place and Motion (2012, UC Press). At Dickinson Professor Bender is affiliated as well with the department of Anthropology and the Health Studies Certificate Program.

HensonJohn Henson is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Biology at Dickinson College and holds a doctorate in cell and developmental biology from Harvard. In addition to his position in the Biology Department, he also participates in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Health Studies Programs and has teaching and research interests in cell biology, immunology, and public health. His interest in public health grew out of his science fellowship at the U.S. State Department where he participated in disease surveillance capacity building in North Africa and the Middle East.  More recently he has helped direct Health Studies Program students in community-based research in a variety of areas including childhood immunization compliance, observance of anti-diesel idling regulations, and health-related quality of life.

KumagaiYoshitaka Kumagai is a Professor of Social Science at Akita International University (AIU). Professor Kumagai earned his Ph.D. in Forest Social Science at Oregon State University in 2001, and held a postdoctoral research position at Washington State University from 2002-2004. He has been teaching at AIU since its inception in 2004. Along with coordinating collaborative Project Based Learning opportunities with Dickinson College and several other U.S. universities, he holds a number of administrative positions at AIU including Dean of International Collaboration, Director of the Center for Regional Sustainability Initiatives, and Director of the Center for East Asia Research. Outside AIU, he has held leadership roles in international organizations devoted to protected areas management, sustainability, forest management, revitalizing rural communities. He currently is co-chair for the newly developed “Asia Protected Areas Network.”

SarconeDavid Sarcone, Ph.D., C.M.A. is an associate professor at Dickinson College in the Department of International Business and Management. He joined the department in 2001. Prior to joining the Dickinson faculty, Professor Sarcone was employed in the health care industry. Over a health care career spanning twenty-five years, he held senior management roles in several leading regional health care systems and specialty provider organizations. Professor Sarcone was instrumental in the design and development of Dickinson College’s Health Studies Certificate Program and has served as the Coordinator of Dickinson College’s Health Studies Certificate Program. Professor Sarcone also has served as the Chair of the International Business and Management Department. Professor Sarcone’s research interests include health care management and community health planning and management issues. Dr. Sarcone earned his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh and his doctoral degree from the School of Public Affairs, Pennsylvania State University.

StaubShalom Staub is Associate Provost of Academic Affairs and Civic Engagement at Dickinson College. His primary responsibilities relate to advancing Dickinson’s work to facilitate opportunities for students to become actively become engaged with the wider world. Staub works closely with faculty members and community partners to guide the development of service-learning and community-based research courses. Staub also developed and directs Dickinson’s Conflict Resolution Resource Services to provide mediation, conflict coaching and training programs on campus. Staub is also a contributing faculty member in Sociology, Religion, Judaic Studies, and Middle East Studies. Prior to his work at Dickinson, Staub directed a state agency focused on inter-group relations, and founded and directed the non-profit organization, Institute for Cultural Partnerships. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in Anthropology from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania.

The award was presented at The Forum’s Eleventh Annual Conference, It Takes a Campus and More: The Faces of Education Abroad, in New Orleans on March 27, 2015, where the recipients presented at a session about the course.

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2013 Award Recipient:

Alice Layton of Lesley University/Rupununi Learners Foundation

Alice LaytonPlease join us in congratulating Alice Layton of Lesley University’s Guyana Lesley Abroad Service Semester (GLASS) program, whose “Indigenous Natural Resource Ecology” course was selected to receive the Forum’s first Award for Excellence in Education Abroad Curriculum Design. “Indigenous Natural Resource Ecology” is an eight-week fieldwork course designed to provide an immersion in the social environment of an indigenous Guyanese community. Its innovation lies in the participation of Macushi villagers, who join Ms. Layton as instructors to introduce students to key resource-based survival skills conserved by their indigenous knowledge. The students, in turn, contribute to the host village by facilitating community conversations through the use of participatory video in natural resource management planning. The result is a powerful encounter that initiates experiential learning for both students and villagers while facilitating the preservation of traditional land use practices.

Members of the selection committee, composed of colleagues from Forum member institutions, noted that “the breadth of the potential cultural impact this course has for students and the host community is impressive,” and “the combination of indigenous learning and technology is an innovative approach and very much off the beaten tracks.”Forum President and CEO Brian Whalen commented that “this new Award will help to inspire innovative approaches to education abroad curriculum design.” He added that “Professor Layton’s thoughtful and creative course is an excellent example of how education abroad can make a positive difference in the lives of both our students and the communities that host them.”

Ms. Layton is a social entrepreneur and Director of the Rupununi Learners Foundation, the U.S. nonprofit partner of the indigenous Guyanese NGO, Rupununi Learners Incorporated. These sister organizations developed the plan for a Yupukari-based study abroad semester that with the partnership of the Science division at Lesley University became the GLASS program. This program is the first semester-long study abroad program in the country of Guyana. The aim of the GLASS program is to support a local initiative to increase capacity-building for natural resource management among the Macushi people of Yupukari village and satellite villages while providing a mutually rigorous education in environmental studies and profound cultural exchange for Lesley students and villagers alike.

The award was presented at The Forum’s Standards Institute on “Curriculum, Teaching and Education Abroad” at the University of Minnesota on November 19, 2013, where Ms. Layton spoke about her approach to education abroad curriculum design.

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