Short-Term Travel Study Programs

Learning experiences that take students outside the traditional classroom and their comfort zone to study abroad or domestically can cause inordinate demands on them emotionally, financially and logistically. As a faculty member from the Justice, Law and Public Safety Department at Lewis University I have had the honor and privilege to co-instruct with a colleague from the Biology Department two unique short-term travel study programs to enhance student learning majoring in forensic criminal investigations (aka CSI) and criminal justice. The intent was to offer experiential learning opportunities with the hope they would improve student retention, job opportunities and offer a better understanding of globalization.  Over the last five years we have taken students to the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center and London, England to gain lifelong experiences, which can be extremely beneficial for self-discovery and future job opportunities. 

Dr. Lynn A. Tovar, Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies, and Dr, Cynthia Misischia, Biology, traveled to the University of Tennessee’s Forensic Anthropology Center with 14 students to study Human Identification in Criminal Investigations.

What are Short Term Travel Programs and how are they beneficial to students? 

Short-term travel programs have in the past been criticized for not truly exposing students to a different cultures, however there has also been considerable argument that short-term programs can have similar impacts to the more traditional longer programs.  Short-term programs allow a student to participate in multiple travel program opportunities during the course of their degree.  This allows students the opportunity to explore several worldview experiences.  Myself and Dr. Cynithia Misischia have spent considerable time in ensuring appropirate academic preparation, ongoing facilitation, purposeful program design, and adequate opportunity for guided reflection and discussion, thereby ensuring the short- term study program will be successful.  In developing our programs, we scheduled the courses carefully and promoted the programs conscientiously in order to attract students with limited resources and/or no prior travel experiences.  For example, a short travel program with a schedule between 7-10-days at the end of spring semester between finals and graduation is attractive for students. This allows the expense of the travel program to be included in their financial aid since it is part of the spring semester course load.  A shorten schedule allows students who may have difficulty leaving for a longer period of time due to work or family obligations the ability to participate without negative ramifications.  Lewis University is guided by its Catholic and Lasallian heritage, which is firmly committed to fostering mission-based values of Fidelity, Wisdom, Knowledge, Justice and Association. Experiential learning through travel study courses are able to enhance the higher learning experience from a more holistic perspective.  Travel study opportunities have the power to transform the lives of college students whereupon they broaden their educational experience by exposing them to other cultures and customs.  

May 2020, eighteen students will be participating in a short-term travel study to London England.  The course consists of an online preparation portion followed by an eight-day trip to London England where students interact and learn from British experts in the field of criminal justice and forensic science. 

About Dr. Lynn Atkinson Tovar

Dr. Lynn Atkinson Tovar is a professor of Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies at Lewis University in Illinois. The former commander has done research on teen relationships and technology as well as abusive relationships. Her book "Smart Teen, Safe Teen: Respecting Relationships in Your Social Digital Life " is available at

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