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The Adventure Learning Grant: Frequently Asked Questions

About | Eligibility & Selection | Proposals | Logistics | Finances | Contact


The Adventure Learning Grant is a $15,000 stipend awarded annually to each of 3 Fairhaven students so that they may travel abroad to enrich their education with intellectual risk, challenge, and adventure.


Applicants must have completed two quarters at Fairhaven by the end of the quarter in which they apply. Students entering Fairhaven in the summer are eligible to apply fall quarter. Applications are typically due annually in early November. See deadlines for more information.


About the Grant

How does the Adventure Learning Grant compare to a Study Abroad program?

In Study Abroad programs, institutions make logistical arrangements, plan curricula and programs, and establish expectations and evaluation criteria for achievement. Students pay tuition and receive full credit. In an Adventure Learning Grant, recipients decide where they will go, how and when; what they will do and with whom; and what it all means, both at the time and in retrospect. Students register for only 1 credit per quarter to maintain access to WWU services.


How does the Adventure Learning Grant compare to other opportunities for global travel?

The emphasis on independence and flexibility is highly unusual, but two programs share some similarities and you might find their websites useful. The Adventure Learning Grant was inspired in part by the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. The following language from the Watson website could be used to describe the Adventure Learning Grant:

  • Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects.
    "When they wake up in the morning most Watson Fellows ask themselves, What am I going to do today? If you believe that you will wake up and ask, What do they want me to do today? then you are probably not imagining a Watson.
  • The Bonderman Fellowship, a grant for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Washington, asserts a similar goal: to enable students to undertake independent international travel to explore, be open to the unexpected, and come to know the world in new ways.


Where can I go?

The grant requires that you remain outside of the United States (or home country, if different from the U.S.) for at least 10 months, and you are restricted from going to countries under U.S. State Department travel warnings or under U.S. Treasury Embargo. You may choose any other destination or destinations, but please note selection criteria that emphasize the extent to which your proposal will challenge your perspectives and expose you to cultures different from those with which you are familiar. For that reason, proposals for Canada, Western Europe, and Australia/New Zealand may be less competitive.


Why can't I stay in the United States?

The purpose of the grant is to afford you the opportunity of leaving the comfort of your native language, culture, and institutional frameworks in order to learn something about the range of human experience and culture.


Why do I have to return to Fairhaven for a full academic year?

One of the Adventure Learning Grant's goals is to help embody challenge and adventure as integral to a Fairhaven education. Your presence in classes and in the life of the community over the course of the year is a powerful manifestation of that goal.


How do I justify taking ten months to travel and pursue my own interests?

Consider the Adventure Learning Grant as an opportunity to put local issues in a global context, to appreciate the reality of other people's lives, and to gain insight into the complexity of world problems. The things you learn about yourself and the world will no doubt enhance your effectiveness as a leader and problem solver in the future.



Eligibility & Selection

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must have completed two quarters at Fairhaven by the end of the quarter in which they apply. Students entering Fairhaven in the summer are eligible to apply fall quarter.


Who is on the selection committee?

The committee is composed of Fairhaven faculty (including the dean), alumni, and previous recipients of the Adventure Learning Grant.



Am I expected to propose a research project?

No, this is not an academic program. Your proposed topic will provide a focus for your experience; it should allow you to gain experience, insight, and awareness but you will not be expected to produce a product.


How do I develop a successful proposal?

  • Identify your passion! A successful proposal conveys a passionate interest in a topic that you can pursue in a global context. It suggests how your project will challenge you and sustain your interest for at least ten months. It may include the underlying questions that motivate your passionate interest.
  • Think about what you want to do! A successful proposal indicates what you are likely to be doing, not just where you will go. Even if you want to work with an existing group or organization, describe what you want to do, not what you think they will want you to do.


May I submit a joint proposal with another student?

No. The Adventure Learning Grant is an independent project. It aims to afford you the opportunity to learn about yourself and others in a way that may only be possible when traveling alone over an extended period of time.


Am I expected to solve the world's problems?

No. You may choose to put yourself in a position where you might learn something about how other people solve their own problems, but your proposal will raise questions if it suggests that you have answers to other cultures' problems.


Who do I talk to about making a proposal?

For more information about the Adventure Learning Grants and the application and selection process or to discuss your particular project ideas, contact Professor John Tuxill.




How do I make connections in other countries?

Electronic sources are invaluable but you also need to consider who does and does not have access to the Internet. You will no doubt develop criteria for evaluating web sites and other information as you seek appropriate connections. Cast your net widely; let everyone know of your interest. The more broadly you inquire, the more likely you will be to experience the serendipity of things coming together from unlikely sources.


Should I make arrangements to work with an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)?

An existing organization may provide you with a place to start but if it defines your entire time abroad it may curtail your ability to experience and explore.


May a partner or child accompany me?

Persons with dependents may apply but the project is intended to be an individual project and the grant does not provide a dependents' allowance.


May friends or family visit me?

Yes. You may find, however, that visits interrupt the impact of the experience.



How will my absence affect my student loans?

You need to speak with someone from Student Accounts before you go to make arrangements so that your student loans do not go into default.


Does the Adventure Learning Grant count for academic credit?

You are required to register for one credit during the period of your Adventure Learning Grant. Tuition and fees may be paid from your grant. You may also use grant funds for language study but not for other forms of tuition or training.


Do I need insurance?

Grant recipients will be expected to have some form of health and perhaps evacuation insurance. This may be paid for from your grant.


Is the $15,000 stipend taxable?

The grant is taxable as personal income, but you may spread the tax burden over two years by taking the stipend in quarterly installments.


How will receiving the grant affect my financial aid when I return?

Consult a tax specialist and review IRS Publication 970 for complete information. In short, though, grant and scholarship income is taxable if it is in excess of qualified expenses. While you must report your income on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), grant and scholarship income in excess of qualified expenses counts as an income inclusion reportable on the FAFSA Worksheet C. So, while you may owe tax on a portion of your grant, the income will not affect your financial aid eligibility the following year.


What about travel risks?

In formulating proposals and carrying out activities under a grant, you are expected to make common sense judgments about possible indicators of risk such as State Department travel warnings, political unrest and disease. This is a good topic to explore in a conversation. See Help below.


Fairhaven: Sarah Ishmael

Student Quote

"Economic collapse and transition in the wake of the Soviet collapse brought substantial changes for household structures and livelihoods, and I wanted to understand how these changes have impacted women in Tajikistan."

(Adventure Learning Grant Recipient, 2006-7)



John Tuxill

Fairhaven College Room 320a

(360) 650-435