The College

Global Experiential Learning and Teaching (GELT)

Embed an international study experience within your advanced undergraduate coursework through the GELT grant program.

GELT Information for Faculty

The Global Experiential Learning and Teaching (GELT) grant program provides funds for undergraduate seminars that embed an international travel component. These faculty-led courses may be offered in the Winter Session or Spring Semester, with embedded travel during Spring Break. GELT applications for AY 2024-2025 is open from April 15 - May 31.

The objectives of the GELT program are to:

  • Promote experiential learning within the Open Curriculum
  • Create direct ties between on-campus classroom learning and global experiential education, advancing students' holistic Brown academic experience
  • Offer courses with an intensive academic focus on a specific topic
  • Encourage students to explore new academic areas and geographic locations that align with their interests and academic goals
  • Increase accessibility to international opportunities, particularly for students who may not normally pursue education abroad

The GELT program provides up to $36,000 to support travel, accommodations, and related costs for two faculty/staff members and up to 12 Brown students. 

If you are not yet ready to facilitate a course off-campus and are interested in requesting support for curriculum development, please email

Applicants must:

  • Be salaried members of the Brown faculty. All regular members of the Brown faculty are eligible. Non-regular faculty members must be paid by Brown (i.e., not an independent contractor) and must have an appointment term that extends through the expected semester of course travel. 
  • Plan to develop and teach the proposed course (Group Independent Study Projects (GISPs) will not be considered for funding).
  • Have experience with teaching or conducting research in the proposed host country.
  • Demonstrate established relationships with colleagues at a university, cultural/historical organization, NGO, for-profit, or government entity in the proposed host country.
  • Adhere to Brown's Travel Advisory Policy.

Preference will be given to faculty who have experience leading an education abroad course and to faculty who are able to communicate in the language of the host country.

Repeat GELT Applications

Unsuccessful applicants are welcome to re-apply during any cycle. Applicants who have already received GELT Phase II funding cannot re-apply in the year immediately following their GELT course implementation, but may do so after one year has passed. Priority may be given to first-time applicants.

The online application is available in Via TRM, Brown’s study abroad application management system. Please use your Brown credentials to log into Via TRM.

Phase II Selection Criteria & Application Rubric

Should you have any questions about the application or experience technical difficulties, please email

  1. Syllabus
  2. Travel Component Rationale 
  3. Statement of Experience in Country 
  4. Sample Itinerary
  5. Budget
  6. Confirmation of Support from your Department Chair
  7. Confirmation of support from the host country

Sample course syllabi and program budgets are available in Via TRM.


Grant funds will be managed by a College financial analyst, who will work closely with awardees to dispense and reconcile funds.

Funds will be made available during the semester immediately preceding the course implementation. Faculty are required to adhere to the post-selection requirements listed below as a condition of their course funding. Faculty will receive a travel advance for on-site expenses before departure. 

Past courses have been showcased in News from Brown, the Brown Daily Herald, and the Taipei Times

Year Course Title and Instructor Country
2024 The Right to the City: Focus on Indonesia (Professor L. Yapp) Indonesia
2024 Representations of Italian Fascism (Professor S. Stewart-Steinberg) Italy
2024 Borderlands (Professor Di Carlo)  Turkey
2023 Climate Extremes and Human Rights (Professor A. Lynch) Switzerland
2023 HIV/AIDS in Diverse Settings: Focus on Israel (Professor R. Kantor) Israel
2023 Migration in the Americas (Professor D. Lindstrom) Mexico
2020 Arctic Climate and Policy (Professor A. Lynch) Norway
2020 HIV/AIDS in Diverse Settings: Focus on Israel (Professor R. Kantor) Israel
2020 The U.S.-Mexico Border and Borderlands: Experiential Learning on the Ground and in the Field (Professor E. Hu-Dehart)
Lea E. Williams GELT Award 2019-20 Recipient
California & Mexico
2019 Migration in the Americas (Professor D. Lindstrom) Mexico
2019 Physical Volcanology (Professor C. Huber)
Lea E. Williams GELT Award 2018-19 Recipient
2019 The African Atlantic Diaspora: Race, Memory, Identity, & Belonging (Professor S. Delalue) Ghana
2019 HIV/AIDS in Diverse Settings: Focus on Israel (Professor R. Kantor) Israel
2018 Berlin: Architecture, Memory, & Politics (Professor D. Neumann) Germany
2018 Living & Material Landscapes of the African Diaspora (Professor I. Osayimwese) Barbados
2018 HIV/AIDS in Diverse Settings: Focus on Israel (Professor R. Kantor) Israel
2018 Decolonizing Museums: Collecting Indigenous Culture in Taiwan & North America (Professor C. Frank) Taiwan
2017 Advanced Egyptian Arabic: Displacement and Diaspora in a Modernizing Egypt (Professor A. Hassan) Egypt
2017 Critical Approaches to Global Humanitarianism in Thailand (Professor E. Shih) Thailand
2017 Settler Colonialism & US Military Empire in the Pacific (Professor N. Shibusawa) Hawai'i
2017 The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives (Professor D. Jacobson) Israel/Palestine
2016 Anthropology of Displacement and Refugees in the Middle East (Professor S. Tobin) Jordan
2016 Philosophy & Practice of Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism (Professor H. Roth) Japan
2016 Cities, Colonies and Global Networks in the Western Mediterranean (Professor P. Van Dommelen) Spain
2015 Global Tectonics (Professor A. Saal) Argentina
2015 Brazil Under Vargas: Shaping a Nation (Professor J. Green) Brazil
2015 Local & Global Community Engagement to Reduce Health Disparities (Professor A. Nunn) Ghana & Brazil
2015 Berlin: Architecture, Politics and Memory (Professor D. Neumann) Germany
2015 Special Topics in Playwriting: Guhahamuka (Professor E. Ehn) Rwanda & Uganda
2015 International Journalism (Professor S. Kinzer) Nicaragua
2015 The Medieval Monastery (Professor S. Bonde) France
2015 The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives (Professor D. Jacobson) Israel/Palestine
2014 Climate & Development Lab (Professor J. T. Roberts) Peru

Complete this brief inquiry form. Once submitted, you will receive program updates, as well as an informational video outlining the GELT application process and roles and responsibilities for a faculty-led program director. 

GELT Information for Students

By participating in a GELT course, students enhance their coursework through hands-on learning, and gain exposure to different viewpoints, people, and experiences. These courses provide an opportunity for an international education experience in addition to, or in lieu of, spending a semester or summer abroad. Programs for Winter & Spring 2025 will be announced in Summer 2024.

What is Included?

Essential travel costs (flights, accommodations, most meals, health insurance for international locations, site tickets) are covered by the GELT grant. As a result of this funding, participation in a GELT course costs similar to enrolling in a Winter Session on-campus course. Students are responsible for their tuition and associated campus fees, including on-campus housing (if needed) during the Providence portion of the course. Financial aid is available to eligible students during the academic year and Winter Session.

Application Process

Students interested in participating in a GELT course, must submit an application for review in Via TRM.  GELT courses have a maximum of 12 students, so participation is limited.

Students do not need to apply for GELT grant funding. Faculty who are offering GELT courses have already received the funding to cover travel expenses for the group of enrolled students.

Travel Requirement

Because travel is an essential component of every GELT course, students must travel with their class and fulfill all on-site requirements in order to earn academic credit.

Health and Safety

All participants traveling to international locations will be enrolled in Brown University's International Accident and Sickness Study/Travel Abroad blanket insurance plan and the International SOS 24/7 emergency medical and travel assistance service. Students will be required to register with TravelSafe, Brown's international travel registry, and participate in a pre-departure orientation session. Faculty will also provide an on-site orientation upon arrival. 

Please contact Kelly Watts, with questions.

Support for the GELT Program

A signature initiative of Brown University's strategic plan, Building on Distinction, the Global and Experiential Learning and Teaching Program is supported by gifts from alumni and friends to the Dean of the College Innovation Fund. One such gift is the Lea E. Williams GELT Award, established in 2018. For general information, contact


Lea E. Williams GELT Award

Each year, undergraduates from all financial backgrounds have the opportunity to integrate advanced coursework with international experiences for no additional cost beyond the cost of a standard Brown course. Made possible through the generosity of our donors, Global Experiential Learning and Teaching (GELT) grants allow students to connect academic and real-world experiences by traveling alongside Brown faculty and engaging with local scholars and practitioners around questions, issues, and challenges of local and global significance.

One example of this donor generosity is the Lea E. Williams Award, established in 2018, which supports course development and essential travel costs for courses selected by the GELT committee with travel to Asia or another international destination. The award was established in 2018 in honor of Lea E. Williams ADE’60 hon., P’77 AM’77, P’81, GP’14, GP’18, who was appointed Professor Emeritus of History in 1989, after having taught at Brown for 33 years.

Note: While faculty with a particular interest in leading short-term travel courses to Asia are encouraged to apply for the GELT award, neither faculty nor students interested in enrolling in such a course need to take additional steps beyond the general GELT application process to be considered for this award.

The Global Experiential Learning and Teaching award was named in honor of Lea E. Williams ADE’60 hon., P’77 AM’77, P’81, GP’14, GP’18, who was appointed Professor Emeritus of History in 1989, after having taught at Brown for 33 years. Originally a member of the Political Science Department, Williams was a specialist in East Asian studies and was named Professor of History in 1976 when the Asian History Program merged with the History Department. Williams has written several books and articles covering a wide span, including overseas Chinese nationalism, the Chinese in Southeast Asia, Portuguese trade in Southeast Asia, and Chinese maritime history.

Dr. Lea WilliamsBorn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Williams was interested in foreign languages from a young age because he was “ready to make mistakes and learn,” he says. Williams was destined to follow the family profession and become a lawyer, but World War II and travel to China changed all that. Williams joined the U.S. Army right after his high school graduation, during the height of World War II, but was sent home during training after coming down with pneumonia. It was then that a chance encounter with a family friend working for the U.S. Department of State set Williams on a path that he calls “serendipitous.” The State Department recruited Williams because he could type, a skill he decided to learn in high school while the other boys were in shop class. It was a decision that ended up changing his whole life, he says.

Williams requested to be sent to Latin America because he spoke Spanish, but, to his astonishment, he was sent to China. The 19-year-old Williams was the youngest U.S. Foreign Service Officer serving at that time. His family wasn’t phased by this because, as Williams says, “Everyone was going to some far-off place in those days.”

In Chongqing, he met his future wife, Daisy, who was one of thousands of students who fled to the region during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During that time, it was illegal to do anything deemed “frivolous,” Williams says, which included dancing. Daisy and her friends organized dance parties at their homes, and that’s where she and Williams met. “That’s the best way to learn a language,” Williams says.

The couple eventually relocated to the U.S., where Williams served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer from 1952 to 1955 and earned his A.B. in Chinese studies from Cornell University and his A.M. in Chinese studies from Harvard University. At Harvard, he participated in Harvard's ground breaking anthropological expedition to Indonesia, headed by Clifford Geertz, and studied under John K. Fairbank, considered the doyen of post-war China studies and for whom the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University is named. Williams completed his Ph.D. in history from Harvard in 1956 and joined the Political Science Department at Brown, despite his initial negative impression of Providence. Williams recalls driving down Route 1 onto Benefit Street and thinking to himself, “What a miserable looking place!”

Williams and Daisy settled in a house on Transit Street, where they raised their two children, Adrienne and William. The family frequently traveled to various parts of Southeast Asia, where Williams was a visiting scholar and fellow. Their daughter’s first language was Mandarin Chinese, which Williams and his wife spoke exclusively in their home until Adrienne started attending school and refused to speak it. Their son’s first language was Malay; the family was living in Kuala Lumpur when he began to speak, Williams says.

Williams still lives in the house on Transit Street, where he recently remarked on how the awareness of and education about Southeast Asian culture has shifted from when he was a young man.

“I noticed that when I first got into this business 60 years ago and someone would ask, ‘What do you teach?’ I had to explain it to them. That’s no longer the case. That’s a big change,” Williams says.

Williams says he is honored to have a GELT award named for him; he says it is fitting because he has always encouraged Brown students to travel abroad.

I think getting off campus is a very useful experience. Travel has changed my life in innumerable ways and I am delighted that future generations of Brown students will be encouraged and helped to do the same.

Dr. Lea E. Williams Professor Emeritus of History