SPAN and summer 2015

SPAN, the Student Project for Amity among Nations, is a one-of-a kind program and is open to students from all Minnesota colleges and universities; it was Minnesota's first study and research abroad program. With its long-standing history, hundreds of SPAN alumni provide current students with support. 

2015 Destinations:
Germany or Armenia & Georgia

Destination: Armenia & Georgia are two of the most fascinating countries to emerge from the collapse of the Soviet Union. In existence since ancient times, their history and culture well predate some of the well known European countries. Most recently in the news for the discovery of the world’s earliest known leather shoes and clothing, both Armenia and Georgia offer a unique and challenging opportunity for students to discover and engage a culture by traveling to one of the most strategically important regions in the world. Armenia and Georgia offer a thriving artistic scene, some of the oldest Christian churches in existence, unique medieval and modern architecture, universities, and much more.

Armenia and Georgia offer panoply of research opportunities for visiting students and researchers ranging from international journalism to international relations to human rights and astrophysics.

Destination: Germany and Berlin

Germany, and particularly Berlin, can teach us about living together and living responsibly. Not long ago a symbol of a divided Europe, Berlin is now the model of what the rest of Europe will be like in 20 years. It is the locus of art, culture, history, politics and ethnic diversity.

SPAN History

  • In 1946, right after World War II, a group of students at the University of Minnesota dreamed of a way h they could make a contribution to a better world. 
  • After many meetings with University officials who dared to extend academic approval, and after receiving contributions from several metropolitan businesses, the SPAN program was organized. 
  • SPAN was the first study-abroad program in Minnesota.
  • The idealism of the group was obvious in the name selected--Student Project for Amity Among Nations (SPAN). It was further evidenced in the motto that appeared on the stationery:

"It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."

  • Groups of SPANners from the University of Minnesota, each with a faculty advisor, traveled and studied in the summer of 1947 four European countries.
  • Now SPAN includes students from all Minnesota colleges and universities.
  • Since 1947, more than 2,500 students have shared the SPAN research experience in more than 80 countries and cultures. More than 1,600 of the research projects completed by SPANners are now on display in the SPAN Library located next to the SPAN Office, 772 Social Sciences Building, at the University of Minnesota.

A unique independent research opportunity

SPAN is unique. The program offers students a chance to travel to intriguing destinations. More importantly, it gives them the opportunity to design and carry out their own, unique research and study abroad experience.

Preparation semester

In the spring before departure, students decide on their research project.

  • They gather background information, initiate professional and personal contacts within the host country and arrange in advance to meet and visit with experts in the chosen research area.
  • They meet regularly with members of their travel group and their SPAN academic advisor. They examine the history, culture, language, and current events of the host country. Students make their own arrangements for travel and accommodations.
  • They select two outside readers who help them plan their research and make contacts. The outside readers later will read a draft of the SPAN paper.
  • Students learn about requirements of the Institutional Review Board as they affect their research.
  • They receive 4 credits for their preparation work, based on at least 40 hours of work

Summer Abroad

  • During the eight-week summer stay in the host country, students carry out their individual research projects.
  • They conduct interviews, visit with experts, visit appropriate programs, do library research, uncover new research avenues, and document their findings.
  • They also have opportunities for sightseeing, recreation, relaxation and cross-cultural exchange.
  • Some stay with families or in college dormitories.

Return Year

  • During Fall semester after the summer abroad, students organize and compile their findings.
  • By mid-December, they draft an initial version of their SPAN paper, about 50 pages long, similar to a thesis. 
  • Students receive writing instruction and thorough review during the process.
  • The paper is reviewed by the advisor and outside readers. It is to be completed in Spring semester and a bound copy is given to SPAN May 15.
  • Many SPAN papers have qualified as senior papers or honors theses at the University of Minnesota.
  • The final four credits, based solely on the paper, are given Writing Intensive designation at the University of Minnesota.

SPAN credits generally are transferable to other institutions. Special arrangements may be made to receive graduate credit for SPAN. Students receive fewer credits and must make special arrangements with their graduate school academic departments. Please contact the SPAN office for more information.  

Reasonably priced, and scholarships available

Because students arrange their own itineraries and living accommodations, SPAN often is more economically priced than other programs to similar destinations. Every SPAN participant is eligible for a scholarship, donated by SPAN alumni. SPAN also connects students with other scholarship opportunities.

A student-run, non-profit organization

For more than 60 years, students have kept the SPAN organization alive by getting involved in day-to-day office or outreach activities, interacting with former SPANners and alumni, or speaking up on behalf of SPAN. In addition to helping the program survive on a shoestring, student volunteers keep the program innovative. Student volunteers and Executive Board members are rewarded with valuable career experience and leadership training.


Apply now

Student applications are now being accepted. Apply early to ensure a position for the destination of your choice.