Twelve Travel Opportunities Will Be Offered in the Next Academic Year


Olivia Wieseler, News Editor

As a liberal arts college, Buena Vista University (BVU) values a multidisciplinary, globally-engaging education, according to its vision statement.  You could ask almost any BVU faculty or staff about what this would entail, and many would talk about travel, both domestic and international.   

With numerous opportunities to study abroad, complete internships, or present at conferences, it is no surprise that traveling is part of the BVU culture. Even this past January interim, five groups have gone to different parts of the world for educational courses. However, travel has been taken to a new extreme for next year. 

A total of 12 trips have been approved by their respective deans to travel next year: three closed trips (meaning students apply and are accepted to go on these specific trips), one May/June trip, and eight open trips. According to Dr. Peter Steinfeld, Associate Dean of Faculty, it unusual to have so many. 

“The faculty love to travel, and we just seem to have a critical mass of people who really want to do something this year,” Steinfeld says.  “But I am worried.” 

Traditionally, the decision has been to “let the market decide” which trips would go. Each needs a minimum of eight students, and Steinfeld says that the issue with so many trips being offered during a low period of enrollment, is that all the trips might not go.  

“There was worry that we might end up competing with each other over these trips,” said Steinfeld.

Steinfeld crunched the numbers and figured that they need 64 students to travel next January at the very least, not including those going on the closed trips or the May/June trip, to get all the trips to go.   

He also figured out that typically around ten percent of the student body travels each year.  With enrollment numbers being lower, the minimum number of students needed to make all of these trips go is around that ten percent mark.   

That is why some think that the trips will be competing against each other for travel-interested students, including what happens if one trip is overwhelmingly more popular than the others. However, Steinfeld says that he and the faculty members have talked about different ways to keep this from happening, including putting a cap on the number of students to go on any one particular trip.   

“There was some discussion about limiting trip numbers to some number whether it be 8 or 12,” says Steinfeld. “It might still happen that we limit the trips to a top level to make sure that if a trip is full, they might go to, or try, something new.” 

Steinfeld says that while he worries about getting enough people to go on these trips, he is confident that the faculty will find a way to encourage students to travel.   

“Our goal is to get as many students as possible out in the world to see things, to see the world.  Whether it’s international or domestic, it’s so valuable,” he said. 

The three closed trips are “Global Fellows to Cape Horn, Chile” led by Dr. Melinda Coogan and Professor Miranda Pollock, “STEM Careers for Stine Fellows” led by Dr. Kristy McClellan and Dr. Lisa Mellman, and “Seattle Tech Incubator Course and Trip” led by Dr. Nathan Backman and Dr. Jason Shepherd.  Each of these trips are promoted by the trip-leading faculty in their respective schools, so students who qualify for the trip might apply. 

One trip will be taken in the spring after graduation and is open to all students.  This trip is called “Slaínté! The Irish Experience” and will be led by Dr. Andrea Frantz and Dr. Annamaria Formichella-Elsden.  It is a storytelling course that travels to Ireland, welcoming students from all disciplines to learn about how all kinds of stories can reflect history and cultural values. 

The other eight are open for any student and take place during the January interim.  These trips range from within the United States to halfway around the world. 

Professor Mary Mello-Nee and Dr. Kathryn McKinley are leading the Europe trip that visits seven major European cities in a 21-day travel period.   

Professor Jerry Johnson and Dr. Bethany Larson will be leading the Disney trip to teach students about how Walt Disney used his leadership and storytelling skills to build the Disney empire.   

Professor David Hodge and Men’s Soccer Coach Ben McArthur will lead the course, “Field Experience in Sports Marketing and Management” to Phoenix, Ariz., in which students will meet with marketing professionals at organizations like the Phoenix Suns, Mercury, or Coyotes. 

Professor Mary Donato and Dr. Leslie Haas will be leading a course called “Mythology in Popular Culture: Italy and Greece,” in which students will take a closer look at the influence of Roman and Greek mythology on today’s popular culture.  

Professor Calle Friesen and Professor Jamie Schoenherr will be leading a yoga retreat in the Bahamas, which will educate students in the philosophy and practice of different kinds of yoga.   

Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya and Professor Dave Boelter will be leading a group of students to Easter Island to learn about the intertwining mix of art, religion, and the environment among the Rapa Nui people.   

Dr. Bob Brodman, along with another faculty member, will lead a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands to explore island ecology, studying island organisms and their interactions with one another.   

Dr. Jared White and Dr. Annamaria Formichella-Elsden will lead a trip to Barcelona for an immersion in Catalan culture and the Spanish language. 

Many informational meetings about these trips are being held this semester, and registration for them will begin in September next fall.