You are here

Leader Description

The roles and responsibilities of the Faculty Leader extend beyond the traditional classroom and/or academic advising setting with which you are familiar. Travel Study, by definition, is a 24/7 involvement for participants and the Faculty Leader, alike. This means that, while traveling, you will handle non-classroom issues and situations that differ significantly from the demands and challenges of the classroom that you’re used to.  As a Faculty Leader, daily interactions and close living quarters with students will acquaint you with student life and culture beyond the classroom. Accordingly, you will also need to establish appropriate boundaries between yourself as an agent of the College responsible for students’ experiences, in so many ways, and the students themselves, who may grow attached or dependent on you like you haven’t seen before. If you have more questions about the course leader’s job, or Otis College Travel and External Study, please contact Matthew Penkala by email or (310) 665-6815.

Proposing a Program

  • Develop a Faculty-Led Travel Study course proposal. Discuss your travel study course idea with collaborating department Chair(s). Consider the feasibility of your travel study course idea, including student interest, in-country contacts, departmental support, potential overlap with existing programs and academic content.
  • Consult with Travel and External Study Coordinator or Matthew Penkala to discuss course ideas and work on your proposal/renewal, budget and timeline.
  • Using the Travel Study Budget Template, develop a preliminary budget. The budget is a planning tool to help outline the costs associated with course activities and will ultimately help identify the course fee and the number of students needed for the course to be sustainable.
  • Contact in-ccourse curriculum, including appropriate course learning outcomes.
  • Submit your Proposal/Renewal to Travel and External Study Coordinator or Matthew Penkala by the posted deadlines.

Recruitment & Application


  • Develop marketing materials to promote your course.  Use the poster/flyer/presentation templates available from the Travel and External Study Coordinator… or create your own!
  • Share your course with the Otis Community through webpage development. Individual program specific webpages will be created on the travel study website. Students will use these webpages to apply to Travel Study opportunities.
  • Actively recruit participants for your course using info sessions, classroom visits, former participants, student organizations, online networking sites, etc.
  • Participate in the Fall Travel Study Fair to share your offering with the student body.
  • Host at least one scheduled Information Session.


Finalize student roster in cooperation with Travel and External Study Coordinator. Minimum enrollment needed to run is confirmed when all payment contracts are received.

Preparing to Depart

Review and follow the deliverables found in the Leader and Safety Guide.

  • Review and follow the Task List and Timelines.
  • Develop course and program syllabi to inform students of course activities, expectations, and requirements, communicate how students will be evaluated and graded, and include academic and behavioral expectations.
  • Develop a course calendar of your in-country course-related and extracurricular activities.
  • Order any required books or course materials needed for the course.

Program Logistics, Budget and Advance Payments

  • Finalize all logistics: verify reservations, negotiate final prices and secure resources (instructors, guests, classroom, housing, food, tickets, transportation, activities, etc.).
  • Finalize travel budget and make any needed adjustments based on enrollment, final logistics, etc.
  • Arrange for any advance payments or deposits. Collect invoices from vendors and forward to the Travel and External Study Coordinator to process payments.

Orient Students

  • Plan at least two required in-person Orientations with students during the semester prior to travel to go over course details, course requirements and preparations, travel planning, health and safety, etc.
  • Start to build a collaborative group dynamic and learning community among the students.
  • Develop and communicate the arrival plan/place to your students: where and when they meet the group, how they get to the meeting place and who they should contact in case they are not able to get there (i.e. missed connection).

Final Preparations

  • Provide Emergency Contact Information to the Travel and External Study Coordinator to keep on file for the duration of your course. Submit this information before your departure.
  • Get emergency contact information cards from the Travel and External Study Coordinator and distribute to your students.

In the Field

  • Using the Travel Log, complete all tasks indicated on pages 5-9.
  • Reference the Leader & Safety Guide while traveling—it’s your and your students’ guide.
  • Oversee all academic aspects of the program.
  • Oversee all course logistics if not working with a Program Provider.
  • Track all program expenditures on-site and collect required documents (receipts, etc.).
  • Act as primary resource for student inquiries and problems.
  • Act as the initial responder to logistical, medical, behavioral, and other issues, including emergency/crisis situations if any should arise.
  • Serve as the program's primary liaison with the Travel and External Study Coordinator and Otis College.

Program Wrap-up

  • Gather receipts and documentation for your Travel Advance and Travel & Expense form. Submit your completed paperwork to the Travel and External Study Coordinator.  
  • Write and submit a Course Debrief on your course.
  • Submit your signed Travel Study Course Log.
  • Capture end of course feedback from students.