Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum on Education Abroad welcomes nominations for the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. The Award for Academic Achievement Abroad is an honor that showcases rigorous and significant undergraduate academics that occur as part of education abroad programs. Every year, award recipients are invited (all expenses paid) to present their work at a plenary luncheon at The Forum annual conference. Over the years, the student presentations have become a much-anticipated event of the annual conference.

Academic achievement while abroad represents one of the highest accomplishments of undergraduate student learning. Conducting serious, high-quality academic work while abroad requires critical thinking, analysis, and creativity. The international context poses unique challenges and opportunities for understanding of other cultures and societies.

Award projects encompass a wide variety of academic fields, demonstrating that international learning informs many academic and professional fields. For the award, “academic project” is understood in its broadest possible sense as encompassing the full range of excellence in the academic products of an education abroad experience in the fine arts and humanities, social sciences, and STEM disciplines.

The presentation of these awards underscores, for faculty, international education administrators, and other professionals, the important ways that education abroad impacts student learning. In this way, the very best outcomes of student learning abroad are widely visible to the profession of education abroad as well as to our constituents.

The deadline to submit nominations for the 2018 Award has passed. 



  1. Nominations must be submitted by the Forum institutional representative at a current institutional member of The Forum. The nominating member may be the student’s home institution, host institution, or independent program provider organization. Each member may submit no more than two nominations.
  2. Nominated student must have been:
    • an undergraduate student participating in an education abroad program at the time the academic work was conducted; and
    • enrolled as full-time undergraduate student in the 6 months prior to the submission deadline (that is, not having graduated more than six months before the deadline).
  3. The nominated project must be completed. It may be conducted in any academic discipline, and can include collaborative research projects conducted jointly and co-authored by students and faculty.
  4. For the awards, “academic project” is understood in its broadest possible sense as encompassing the full range of excellence in the academic products of an education abroad experience, from complex site-based research, to papers considering a single topic, to projects realized in electronic or traditional artistic media.
  5. Students identified as finalists may be invited to a phone or Skype conversation to discuss their work with 1-2 members of The Forum's Outcomes Assessment and Research Committee prior to selecting a winner.

Nomination Instructions

Nominations may only be submitted by the institutional representative of a Forum member organization; The Forum is unable to accept forms sent independently of the institutional representative.

Nominations must be completed in English, even if the academic work was conducted and the project completed in another language.

Only complete nominations will be considered. A completed nomination includes the following:

  1. Nomination Form completed by nominating member’s Institutional Representative, this must be completed using The Forum's online form (linked below); Attached form documents, separate emails, or other types of nomination forms will not be considered;
  2. Student Statement completed by nominated student with:
    • Brief description of academic project (Limit to 200 words)
    • Outline of the academic project (one-page, double-spaced);
    • Abstract summarizing the project topic, methodology, results/outcome, and relevance (two-page, double-spaced);
    • Description of how the international experience enhanced the academic experience and how the academic experience enhanced his/her learning (one-page, double-spaced)
  3. Faculty Recommendation, completed by a faculty advisor most familiar with the student’s academic work.
    • The faculty member should discuss the significance and quality of the nominated student's academic project and provide reasons for supporting the nominated student to receive the award. The student’s project should be placed within the context of other undergraduate work that the faculty member has known or supervised. Faculty recommendations will help the nomination reviewers understand how the nature of the nominated work is enhanced by the education abroad experience.
      *All materials should be submitted in English, regardless of the language of the project or program.

Nomination Strategies
Forum member organizations have provided the following tips for fellow members to help plan and manage their nominations for the Forum’s annual Award for Academic Achievement Abroad:

  • Identify programs and courses with research and project components
  • Identify students who have received grants for projects that have an international focus
  • Publicize award to all students who have studied abroad
  • Explain the award’s significance and prestige
  • Ask on-site staff and faculty to nominate students
  • Publicize to campus grants and awards offices, academic departments, and individual faculty with international academic or research interests
  • Establish a process for selecting your student nominees
  • Involve faculty to select students
  • Develop a timeline based on program and office calendars

Submit a Nomination

2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum congratulates the recipients of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Naomi, Jared and Mackenzie will present their research projects at the 15th Annual Conference in Denver, March 29, 2019.

Naomi Caldwell, winner of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Student: Naomi Caldwell 
Nominating member:
Middlebury College
Program: Middlebury-C.V. Starr School in Argentina
Project: “History and Evolution of Monuments: Buenos Aires”



Jared Belsky and Mackenzie Nelsen, winners of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Students: Jared Belsky and Mackenzie Nelsen
Nominating member: The Umbra Institute
Program: Food and Sustainability Studies Program
Project: “Cultivating Activism Through Terroir: An Anthropology of Sustainable Winemakers in Umbria, Italy”



2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Nathanael and Cassandra will present their research projects at the 14th Annual Conference in Boston, March 23, 2018.

Nathanael Bartosch,, winner of the 2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Student: Nathanael Bartosch 
Nominating member:
Eastern Kentucky University
Program: EKU Anthropology Custom Program: Primates in Analabe Gallery Forest, Northern Madagascar
Project: “Lemurs Living Near Farmers (Year 2): Behavioral Study of Endangered Primates”



Cassandra Wanna, winner of the 2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Student: Cassandra Wanna
Nominating member: Middlebury College
Program: Middlebury-C.V. Starr School in Jordan
Project: “Life in Blue: Perspectives of Syrian Refugees in Azraq Camp”



2016 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum on Education Abroad congratulates the recipients of its 2016 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad:



Student: Shanna Law, Juniata College
Nominating member: BCA Study Abroad
Program: BCA Dunedin
Project: “Geology, evaporative salt accumulation and geoecology at Springvale historic gold mine, Central Otago, New Zealand”




Student: Jeb Polstein, Bowdoin College
Nominating member: South India Term Abroad (SITA)
Program: South India Term Abroad
Project: “Agrarian Freedom in Madurai’s Urban Agriculture”



2015 Undergraduate Research Award

The Forum is proud to announce the two winners of the 2015 Undergraduate Research Awards: Shavonne Stanek of Oberlin College and Pauline Day of Wellesley College. The students’ projects were judged by faculty from Forum member institutions, who found them to be the best examples of the highest quality academic achievements of undergraduates studying abroad.

Student: Shavonne Stanek, Oberlin College
Nominating member: Oberlin College
Program: Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management – School for International Training
Project: “The Pelagic Artisanal Fishing of Mangapwani, Northern Unguja”



Student: Pauline Day, Wellesley College
Nominating member: IFE – Institute for Field Education
Program: Paris Field Study and Internship Program
Project: “A Continual Evolution: The reform of France’s ‘Politique de la Ville’ as an urban peace-building mechanism in the suburbs of Paris”



2014 Undergraduate Research Award

Wesley, Erin and Alexx presented their research at The Forum’s 11th Annual Conference in New Orleans on March 27, 2015.

Erin_Emmons cropped

Wes_Hauser_Picture cropped

Students: Wesley Hauser of Wabash College
and Erin Emmons of the College of the Holy Cross
Nominating member: The School for Field Studies
Program: Rainforest Studies Program
Project:“Putting Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo on the Map: Using Present Distribution
to Assess Habitat Requirements and Identify Areas for Further Surveys”

Alex Temena 1 cropped

Student: Alexx Temeña of Brown University
Nominating member: Antioch Education Abroad
Program: Buddhist Studies in India
Project: “’Others Before Self:’ Buddhist Influences at Tibetan Children’s Village, Selakui”



2013 Undergraduate Research Award

Madison Stevens cropped resizedMadison and Narintohn presented their research in San Diego on April 4, 2014 at The Forum’s Tenth Annual Conference.

Student: Madison Stevens, Franklin University Switzerland
Nominating member: SIT Study Abroad
Program: Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation, SIT Study Abroad, Gulu, Uganda
Project: “Lara Ngom ii Acoli: Identifying Root Causes and the Impact of Cultural Cataclysm on Land Conflict Resolution in Nwoya District, Northern Uganda”

Narintohn Luangrath croppedStudent: Narintohn Luangrath, Boston College
Nominating member: Boston College
Program: Dublin Internship Program, Boston College
Project: “Tearmainn na héireann: Direct Provision Housing, Child Asylum Seekers, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”

2012 Undergraduate Research Award

IMG_8454Mary Jane Dempsey (pictured, left), a senior at The College of New Jersey, is a double-major in History and International Studies with a minor in Italian, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While studying abroad in Bologna, Italy at the Spring Hill College Italy Center she conducted research in order to understand what laws have been constructed by the Italian government to regulate immigration and to study how they affect the lives of immigrants and their means of gaining citizenship. A particular focus of her research was to examine lives of the children of immigrants by conducting interviews with them.

Ellen Broen (pictured, right), a triple major in French, Music and International Studies at the University of Richmond, spent a semester in Paris at Université Vincennes-Saint-Denis (Paris VIII), through the Mission interuniversitaire de coordination des échanges franco-américains Paris-Ile de France (MICEFA), a consortium of most of the Universities of Paris. Her research focused on Giacomo Meyerbeer, a mid-19th century composer who was a mentor to famed German composer Richard Wagner, who Broen discovers through her archival research was the source of prejudice against Meyerbeer.

Mary Jane and Ellen presented their work in Chicago on April 5, 2013 at a plenary session during The Forum’s Ninth Annual Conference.

2011 Undergraduate Research Award

On Friday, March 23, 2012 Award winners Richard Hong and Claire Jenson presented their research at a plenary luncheon at the Forum’s 8th Annual Conference in Denver.

Richard Hong spent a semester in Mexico, where he conducted field research in Tapachula, and commuted between the border towns of Ciudad Hidalgo in Mexico and Tecun Uman in Guatemala. His project used an ethnographic survey that he designed to interview undocumented Central American migrants. Claire Jenson’s project, conducted over the course of a year at the Center for University Programs Abroad (CUPA) in Paris, focused on the history of a medieval illuminated manuscript, searching for sources that revealed its ownership, deciphering its text, and analyzing its decorations.

Where Are They Now?

»Lasting Lessons: Following up with the Recipients of the Undergraduate Research Award (pdf)