Faculty/Staff Leadership & Participation

Program Leadership 


While leading an education abroad program can be demanding, it can also be incredibly rewarding. Leaders have a front-row seat to students’ transformation, and many students will remember the program as their “best experience in college.” It is important to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each traveler associated with a UNL education abroad program, both among the leadership team and for the participating students.

Leader Characteristics

Before proposing a program, prospective leaders are encouraged to reflect on whether they are prepared and committed to lead a program in the coming year. In addition, chairs and deans are encouraged to use the following guidelines and criteria when approving program proposals.

Ideally, a leader:

  • Is well-liked and/or well-respected by students. Positive student evaluations for past UNL courses and/or education abroad programs can be a helpful indicator. Students will consider traveling to a relatively unknown or challenging location if they think highly of the leader.
  • Has spent time in the host location(s). At a minimum, the leader should have done an in-depth site visit, but preferably the leader will have visited the location(s) on multiple occasions or spent time living there.
  • Knows the host language (if applicable), as well as the cultural and social norms of the host culture.
  • Understands and embraces the “student support” aspects of program leadership: setting clear expectations, promoting positive group dynamics and inclusion, responding to student crises, etc.
  • Will be present and available in Nebraska, during the student recruitment, preparation, and post-program phases, and be present and available in the host location(s) for the full duration of the program.
  • Has a fairly permanent employment status at UNL and plans to remain at UNL for at least one semester after the conclusion of the program.

Composition of Leadership Team

A student-to-leader ratio of 10:1 can be used as a benchmark in determining who will teach and lead the program and what the minimum and maximum student enrollment goals should be. However, leadership teams and enrollment goals vary widely and are based on several academic, logistical, and financial considerations, some of which vary by UNL department and college.

The primary leader should be a UNL faculty member with academic expertise in the program’s field(s) of study. A qualified UNL lecturer, instructor, Ph.D. candidate, or staff member may be approved to serve as the primary leader at the discretion of the department and college.

The primary leader should identify one or more co-leaders and/or on-site coordinator(s) with complementary characteristics and skills. The most effective way to “bridge a gap” associated with local knowledge, host language skills, and student support is to work with a professional education abroad organization.

In addition to the primary faculty leader, the leadership team may include one or more co-leader(s):

  • Another UNL faculty leader: Depending on the nature of the program, two faculty members may choose to teach in alternate years, co-teach one course, or offer two or more distinct courses. Leaders should consult with their departments and colleges about instructional salaries and minimum student enrollment numbers. Leader’s travel expenses are typically incorporated into the program budget, but if the student group is small relative to the number of leaders, the leaders are encouraged to seek departmental or college funding for one leader’s travel expenses to keep the overall cost down for students.
  • A UNL staff leader: Some leaders invite a departmental or college advisor, an Education Abroad staff member, or a Student Affairs professional to co-lead, often assuming duties associated with student support, financial management, and cross-cultural understanding. Staff leaders’ travel expenses are often incorporated into the program budget. A staff leader typically will not expect a labor stipend. However, some supervisors may request a buy-out of the staff member’s time.
  • A UNL graduate assistant: The opportunity to co-lead may be offered to a full-time UNL graduate (not undergraduate) student who is uniquely qualified to co-lead the program. The opportunity should not be offered simply as a reward or “perk.” The faculty leader should put in writing the expectations, limitations, duties, and privileges of the assistantship, and both the leader and assistant should sign. The department or college should complete the hiring paperwork for the assistant. A labor stipend is optional, and may be incorporated into the program budget or paid by the department/college.
  • A faculty leader at a partner institution: Some UNL programs run in tandem with other U.S. universities to share logistical support. The leaders at the two institutions might agree to co-teach the course and/or serve as back-up leaders to students from the other institution.
  • A non-UNL technical expert: While rare, some faculty leaders invite a technical expert not affiliated with UNL on a permanent basis to serve as an academic co-leader. The primary UNL leader is responsible for ensuring that the expert understands and complies with all University policies, including those prohibiting harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct. The UNL leader must share all UNL Education Abroad training materials with the expert, and will assume full responsibility for the expert’s conduct. The UNL leader should put in writing the expectations, limitations, duties, and privileges of the expert, and both the UNL leader and expert should sign. The department or college should complete the hiring paperwork for the expert. An expert’s travel expenses and/or labor stipend may be paid by the expert, incorporated into the program budget, or paid by the department/college.

Leader Training & Certification

The EAO staff offers four training sessions throughout the academic year for current and prospective faculty leaders.

  1. Program Design and Partnerships
  2. Marketing and MyWorld
  3. Orientations, Cross-Cultural Communication, Diversity and Inclusion, and Finances
  4. Emergency Preparedness and Risk Management

Each session is delivered in 1.5 hours by EAO staff and relevant guest presenters (Bursar, Dean of Students, Title IX Coordinator, experienced leaders, etc.). The training on emergency preparedness and risk management is required each year a leader is traveling with students. If a leader attends all four trainings consecutively (6 hours total), the leader will be certified and the certification will be noted on program marketing materials. Certification will be valid for three years. (Even if certified, the leader is required to attend the emergency/risk training).

Other UNL Faculty/Staff Travelers


If other UNL faculty and staff are invited to travel with the leader(s) and program participants, they should fit into one of the following categories:

Category #1: Faculty/Staff Affiliate
A UNL faculty/staff members not serving as a program leader may accompany the group and participate in all associated activities if the leader approves and at least one of the following conditions is met:

  1. The faculty/staff member is training to lead the program, or a similar program, in the future.
  2. The faculty/staff member’s travel expenses are being paid or subsidized by the home unit/department/college.

In these cases:

  • The faculty/staff member is not required to enroll in the associated UNL course(s).
  • Education Abroad will bill the faculty/staff affiliate or the supporting unit the exact cost of their participation. All expenses must be paid by the individual or the supporting unit within one month of receiving an invoice from Education Abroad.

UNL WILL charge them for:

  • All of the individual costs on the ground, at the appropriate rate (for example, single hotel room rate if applicable)
  • GeoBlue Student insurance (only if ineligible for faculty/staff coverage under GeoBlue)
  • A portion of the group/shared costs like classroom space and transportation via bus
  • If an unexpected expense arises, the EAO will bill the individual directly for it

UNL WILL NOT charge them for:

  • A portion of the faculty leader’s individual travel costs
  • Education Abroad Fee
  • UNL tuition/fees

Category #2: Faculty/Staff Participant
All UNL faculty/staff members who do not meet at least one of the criteria above must apply to the program and be accepted, and enroll in the associated UNL course(s).

In these cases:

  • The faculty/staff member is required to enroll in the course and will be expected to participate in all activities.
  • Education Abroad will bill faculty/staff participants the same cost and via the same methods as the other student participants:

UNL WILL charge them for:

All expenses must be paid by the individual via the MyRED student account, in line with the student payment deadline.

Policy on Unaffiliated Travelers

Unaffiliated travelers (any individual—including a family member--who is not a student/participant, group leader, or other approved traveler formally affiliated with UNL) may not participate in or accompany UNL education abroad programs or associated activities. Unaffiliated travelers may accompany the leader abroad before or after the official program dates but may not accompany the leader during the official program dates. The University will not provide any financial or administrative support or assume any responsibility or liability for accompanying unaffiliated travelers on UNL faculty-led education abroad offerings. By State statute, University funds may not be used to pay for expenses for family members or for any additional expenses incurred by the addition of a family member. (Updated February 27, 2015)