Globetrotting club offers study-abroad adventure

To join the club, one has to have crossed every meridian in the world at least once.

Cati Vanden Breul

Most college students don’t have enough money to finance a trip around the world.

But, for would-be world travelers at the University, it could become more affordable in the next couple of years.

University journalism professor Ken Doyle is trying to launch a Minnesota chapter of the Circumnavigators Club Foundation – an organization that gives college juniors

an opportunity to travel

around the globe, all expenses paid.

The club has almost 1,000 members internationally, all of whom have, by requirement, crossed every meridian on Earth at least once. Of 14 chapters worldwide, 10 are in the United States.

To start a chapter in Minnesota, Doyle needs five members, but said he’s aiming for at least a dozen. Right now he has three.

If Doyle is successful, University students will be able to apply for the club’s grant. The application asks students to propose a research project that would take them to at least five countries spanning the globe. They must travel the summer after their junior year.

After students return from abroad, they are required to write a research paper detailing their experiences.

“Only students from selected schools can apply every year,” Doyle said. “It’s not open to any student in the country.”

If a chapter opens in the Twin Cities, University students could become finalists in the nationwide contest.

“Since I’m kind of leading the way, I’d push for the ‘U,’ ” Doyle said.

Helen Jost, executive director of the organization, said money for the grants comes from member donations.

By offering students a chance to incorporate research and world travel into their college experience, the club’s foundation – a separate nonprofit organization – is helping to “broaden their horizons,” she said.

The club’s motto is “through friendship, to leave this world a little better than we found it,” she said.

“We bring together people who are really interested in what’s going on in the world and have circumnavigated the globe,” Jost said.

Doyle, who studied in Rome during college and took a group of University students on a two-month excursion to China as a professor, said the benefits students

get from traveling are priceless.

“It’s so satisfying to see people’s eyes open when they see how the rest of the world operates,” he said.

Theofanis Stavrou, adviser for the University’s chapter of the Student Project for Amity Among Nations, a group that sponsors undergraduate research opportunities abroad, said he’s glad another study-abroad program might come to campus.

“Study-abroad gives students the kind of confidence and critical thinking they need to view the world more comfortably,” said Stavrou, a global studies professor. “The only way our prejudices will decrease and our understanding will broaden is if we really study and appreciate other cultures.”

Since 1964, the Circumnavigators Club Foundation has sent 80 students on research trips around the world.