SPAN, the Student Project for Amity among Nations, is a unique travel and research abroad program. SPAN was founded in 1947 by students, who having experienced first-hand World War II felt a deep need to improve intercultural exchange and understanding. SPAN was created on the belief that friendship between nations begins with the individual. In pursuit of this, we have sent over 2,000 students to 85 countries over the last seven decades.
SPAN sends students abroad not just as tourists, but as those seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the country they are traveling to. Students have the opportunity to attend cultural events and interact with locals during their daily activities and research.
SPAN participants, or SPANners, choose their own research topic, with guidance from a faculty advisor. Students set their own schedules around their research and personal interests, make research contacts on their own, and are free to travel within the host country.
We aim to step outside the confines of conventional study abroad programs to give students the opportunity to develop intellectual independence and to engage more authentically with the culture they are living in while abroad. Furthermore, by having independence in their research and time, while also having access to an advisor for guidance and support, students grow significantly in their confidence and abilities both academically and personally.
SPAN – the academic program
The academic program is housed at Hamline University, in St. Paul, however the program is open to students from all Minnesota colleges and universities. Since students choose their own research topic, SPAN is also open to students from all majors.
The SPAN program occurs in three stages involving the preparation of a research proposal, time spent abroad, and writing a substantive research paper. The faculty advisor will offer support through all three stages and will travel abroad with the students. Students will receive six credits from Hamline, which can be transferred to other institutions.
SPAN – the non-profit organization
The SPAN academic program works closely with a non-profit [501(c)(3)] organization – the Minnesota SPAN Association. The non-profit awards scholarships to students through the generous donations of SPAN alumni. The Association is governed by an executive board comprised of program alumni, advisors, and current students.
The non-profit is a student-driven organization; students are offered leadership positions on the executive board and are invited to participate in board activities. We also encourage students to get involved with the program in other ways such as assisting at learning abroad events or helping with other projects.