Travelling Knowledges program supports student travel

Through the new Travelling Knowledges program, UNBC students will be able to take part in international field schools or other travel for course credit all over the world.

March 2, 2022
People paddle a canoe on the Amazon, during a field school.

Prince George, B.C. – University of Northern British Columbia students can access new funding to support international travel related to their studies.

The Travelling Knowledges program provides financial support for up to 62 domestic undergraduate students in any discipline for trips ranging from three weeks to one year. Students can use the funds to help pay for travel, living and academic expenses as well as costs related to childcare, travel documents and health insurance when participating in international field schools or individual travel related to course study.   

This offering has been made possible by nearly $500,000 in competitive grant funding from the Government of Canada’s new Global Skills Opportunity program. Depending on the length of travel, students can apply for grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for travel taking place between 2022 and 2026. 

“Travelling Knowledges makes global education more accessible for UNBC students,” says UNBC interim President Dr. Geoff Payne. “When students travel as part of their undergraduate program they can make new connections, engage with different cultures, learn in new people and appreciate new experiences that simply are not possible in a traditional classroom.” 

While open to all Canadian post-secondary students, the national program targets groups for whom international experiences have traditionally been less accessible — specifically Indigenous students, students from low-income backgrounds and those with disabilities. It also aims to diversify destination countries where Canadian students pursue international learning.

“The objective of Travelling Knowledges is to facilitate travel so students can bring their newfound knowledge and experience back to Canada and their communities,” says First Nations Studies Associate Professor and affiliated faculty member with the Department of Global and International Studies Dr. Agnieszka Pawlowska-Mainville.

“In addition to providing financial support, we will assist students with their emotional and academic needs. We want to ensure that all students who participate in Travelling Knowledges will gain inter-cultural, leadership, and work skills in a supportive environment,” adds Pawlowska-Mainville, who also serves as a member of the Travelling Knowledges project committee and the principal investigator behind the successful grant application. 

Students can access the Travelling Knowledges program for costs associated with attending international field schools. Past UNBC field schools have included courses in Peru, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Zambia and Guatemala.  

The program will also provide funding for students to participate in virtual mobility classes through the Department of Global and International Studies. The first virtual class, to be offered during the May 2022 Semester, is focused on the concept of governance. The upper-level seminar-based class will include presentations from international scholars such as Maori leaders, environmental experts from India and Norway, culture-keepers from Poland and Mexico and leaders in nationhood-building from South Africa. 

During the 2023-24 academic year, there will be a virtual mobility class on folklore and intangible cultural heritage. 

“The virtual mobility classes bring together students from across disciplines as they learn from global experts,” says the Chair of the Department of Global and International Studies Dr. Jacqueline Holler. “In addition, with travel opening up all over the world, we look forward to planning field schools with our international partners. International field schools are a great opportunity for students to travel and learn with their peers in a supportive environment under the guidance of experienced professors.”

Global Skills Opportunity is a national outbound student mobility program that is expected to enable more than 16,000 Canadian college and undergraduate-level university students from across the country to acquire the global skills employers want and the Canadian economy needs. A key component of the Government of Canada’s International Education Strategy, Global Skills Opportunity is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada and is administered jointly by Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada. 

Compared to similar countries, fewer Canadian students – only about 11 per cent of university undergraduates and three per cent of college students – participate in work- or study-abroad experiences during their studies. The new program stands to change that. By empowering post-secondary institutions to implement innovative solutions to barriers to participation, Global Skills Opportunity will expand the horizons of Canadian students from coast to coast, and improve Canada’s competitiveness on the world stage.

“Global Skills Opportunity is breaking down financial, social and logistical barriers that have prevented too many underrepresented students from participating in global study and work opportunities,” says Universities Canada President Paul Davidson. “Through this ambitious and ground-breaking program, thousands of young Canadians will have transformational experience abroad. Their newfound global perspective and skills will inform the way they live and work for decades to come.”