Travel Study Programs

Travel Study Programs


Purdue University North Central’s Travel Study Programs provide a unique experience to students. Discover your destination through the special privileges that are reserved for those who are accompanied by experts or researchers.

Visit sites that are off the beaten path and relive the experiences as only those who are intimately acquainted with the area can relate them. Experience destinations personally and earn course credit at the same time. Travel Study is an excellent component of the college experience and we invite you to participate in our ever-growing offerings right away!

Upcoming Programs:

Great Smoky Mountains – Natural History of the Great Smoky Mountains

In Summer 2014 (as well as almost every August since 2005), participants will discover the splendor of the most rugged mountains in Appalachia with PNC Professors Jason Curtis and Vanessa Quinn! The Great Smoky Mountains preserve a rich cultural tapestry of Southern Appalachian history. This extraordinary travel/study course will bring participants into contact with the ecosystem of a temperate forest where plant life, sparkling mountain streams and the breath-taking vistas that will be their classroom. They will explore the wildlife, plant life, ecology, geology, and environmental concepts unique to the Smoky Mountain, a world of breathtaking wonder and beauty!

Take a tour
(Download video transcript)

Pre-Trip Meeting: July 23, 2014, 6-9 p.m.
Travel Dates: August 3-9, 2014
Post-Trip Meeting: August 13, 2014, 6-9 p.m.

Course Options:

  • BIOL 288: 2 credit hours, this course counts toward the Ecology minor and as a graduation requirement in the Biology major
  • BIOL 324: 3 credit hours, this course fulfills a General Education Core (Natural Sciences) requirement, a graduation requirement in some Education majors, and an elective toward the Ecology major

Tuition and Fees: Students are responsible for paying all applicable tuition and fees to the Bursar’s office, as well as all applicable deposits and Program Fees to the Office of Graduate and Extended Learning. All payments must be made by the relevant deadlines set by both offices or the student will not be permitted to participate and may not be eligible for refunds of monies paid.

Program Fee and Deposit Information for Summer 2014 Program: Coming Soon!

Past Programs:

PNC in Peru

Participants recently joined PNC Professors Kenny Kincaid and Assen Kokalov as PNC returned to Peru in June 2013! It was also offered in June 2008 and June 2010. The program included stays in Lima, Peru’s capital city and colonial center, Lambayeque, the archeological hub of the northern Peruvian coast, and, of course, Cuzco, home to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World! In addition, they were in Cuzco during Inti Raymi, The Festival of the Sun, with hundreds of thousands of other travelers from all over the world as they participated in parts of the week long annual celebration. The program also included excursions to Lake Titicaca, home of the Uros’ floating totora reed islands, Nazca, where the program participants flew over the ancient Nazca lines, and the Ballesta Islands, an archipelago of small isles in Paracas Bay that impresses visitors with its geologic formations and its diverse array of exotic marine life.

Washington D.C.: The History, Politics, and Culture that Shaped Our Nation

In March 2013 (as well as in March 2011 and March 2012), Purdue University North Central students and community members had the unique opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. as part of a course that explored this great American city and focused on the broader concept of citizenship. There was a tour of the Library of Congress, during which each participant received a reading card allowing them to use the Library of Congress’ vast collection to conduct research for the course. Participants also had time to explore many of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, with a private behind the scenes tour by curators at the National Museum of American History and a curated lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian. Other activities included tours of the United States Capitol Building,  Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, a group dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill, a popular Washington D.C restaurant across the street from the White House, and even had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the United States Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Past programs have included other unique opportunities such as private meetings with Ambassadors at their countries’ embassies in Washington.


In June 2012 (as well as June 2006, June 2007 and June 2011), taught by PNC faculty James Pula, an unforgettable historic Civil War battle, its importance in American history, and the lengthy literary battles of veterans following the war were all brought to life in this 3-day, 3-credit course. History came alive as participants traced the path of war during those fateful days at Gettysburg. They had the opportunity to visit the fields where battle raged and museums and shops where exhibits, artifacts and stories of people who endured the war were intertwined in this unforgettable experience.

Participants had the opportunity to see famous “High Water Mark of the Confederacy,” the Soldiers’ National Cemetery where Lincoln gave his historic address, Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, Cemetery Hill, Culp’s Hill and many other famous locations. They walked the very soil where “Pickett’s Charge” broke against the Union defenses and visited Robert E. Lee’s headquarters. They stood in the historic Evergreen Cemetery where Union soldiers sought refuge from Confederate shells among the tombstones and toured the 6,000 acres of the Gettysburg National Military Park with 26 miles of roadways and over 1,400 monuments, markers and memorials. They learned about the roles the 1st and 3rd Indiana Cavalry Regiments and the 7th, 14, 19th, 20th and 27th Indiana Infantry played in the battle, then walked the exact ground where these Hoosiers stood and fought.

MBA International Consultancy in England

In May 2011, nine MBA students from Purdue University North Central took part in an eight-day “International Consultancy Project” in Birmingham, England. This capstone learning experience was intended to give students an opportunity to utilize their academic preparation and prior work experiences as they worked to advise two companies dealing with key business decisions. Running the consultancy project in England also exposed them to a new culture and different ways of doing business.

This opportunity evolved from a prior working relationship between Dr. Alan Krabbenhoft, dean of the PNC College of Business, and Professor Michael Brown, from Birmingham City Business School, a long-established and well-respected business school in the United Kingdom. The nine students were grouped into two teams and each team was paired with one of two Birmingham companies – Samuel Groves and Newey and Eyre. Samuel Groves, is a strategic business unit of the Metalrax group. It manufactures and imports utensils and cookware. It wants to build on initiatives started last year and develop a strategy to move into new markets. Its student team members were Jeff Mellen, Valparaiso; Walt Drescher, Chesterton, Christina Miller, Valparaiso; Jessica Wilson, LaCrosse and Scott Marks, Portage. Newey and Eyre, is a strategic business unit of the French company, Rexel. Its core business is electrical wholesaling and it looked to the students to help with a strategy to enter new markets. The team included Ron Schoff, Michigan City; Andrew Krouse, Granger; Laura LaCasse, Valparaiso and Tammy Riffle-Pack, Porter.

Each group started their consultancy with a meeting with a senior member of the company. They asked questions, gathered information and did what was necessary to understand the company, its strategy and its future vision. One group made about 150 phone calls to company clients and suppliers – including those in other countries – to better understand their company’s situation.

For eight days, the students did research, they brainstormed, they pulled together information and at the end of the week they gave a presentation to their company’s senior management team. After returning home, each team had three weeks to write and submit a final report to their client. Critical in the consultancy is serving the clients’ needs. The clients complimented the students’ work.

Newey and Eyre CEO John Hogan commented, “I was extremely impressed by the quality of the work presented by the delegates from PNC. I was delighted that we engaged in the process and the outputs were immediately useful in helping us make important decisions regarding a new market in the UK. The acid test is whether or not I would have paid for the work that was presented. I would have happily paid for this. I would recommend this program to any business interested in receiving strategic project support.”

The students knew they would put in 14-to-18-hour days and have limited time for sight-seeing or leisure activities. While they all had to make travel arrangements and deal with the challenges of immigration and customs, some encountered other challenges – missed connections due to weather and missing luggage. This became an untended lesson in survival as they encountered a situation that many business travelers meet, but must find a way to overcome.

Though the students worked long hours, they found time to enjoy themselves. They were invited to a formal luncheon with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham. They toured the Jaguar assembly plant and they were feted with a reception at the Birmingham Art Museum. Despite the challenges and the long hours, the students found the consultancy highly rewarding.

Riffle-Pack said, “This was an amazing experience. We had an aggressive timeline to perform an in-depth analysis of a situation faced by a relatively large company. The collaborative nature of this project offered an intense teamwork experience that I will always value.”

As Schoff described, “This was an incredible learning experience. It encompassed a variety of theory and real-life applications in a compressed time period. It was a life experience I will always remember.”

In general, the students enjoyed the consultancy and would recommend it to other students, calling it a “life-changing experience.” Krabbenhoft explained, “We intend to run the international consultancy again next year and would like to make “Consultancy Projects” an integral part of the MBA program. Whether conducted internationally, or within Northwest Indiana, they promote experiential learning and stretch individual learning. That cannot easily be duplicated through classroom learning. In addition, the impact of such projects on the organizations served is vital to the PNC mission.”

Seminar in Animal Behavior

This course, taught by PNC faculty Vanessa Quinn in July 2011, focused on the mechanisms and evolution of animal behavior. Topics covered during the course included perinatal influences on behavior, competition for resources, social behavior, animal communication and signaling, human impacts on animal behavior, and sensory systems and animal behavior. The course consisted of discussion of primary literature and attendance at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society. Students interested in attending graduate school in any biological discipline were strongly encouraged to enroll in this course.

Geobiology and Evolution: A Dinosaur Dig in Eastern Utah

This program, taught by PNC faculty Richard Hengst, was offered in May 2006, May 2007 and May 2009. Evolution has influenced Earth’s geology, while geological and climatic changes have affected evolutionary processes.  This course explored the development of life on earth and key stages in the ongoing interaction between life and earth.  Online modules were completed before field experience commenced in May each year.Students participated in paleontological field work, learned geology first-hand, and performed paleontological laboratory work.

The unforgettable travel/study course took participants to eastern Utah to work with geologists who make history-altering discoveries.  This was a hands-on study of vertebrate paleontology designed to give the student a true “field experience” as they worked with geologists to prospect for fossils.  This trip however was not for the faint-of-heart.  Participants would camp in rustic terrain, their gourmet meals prepared over a campfire or out of a can, and showers were nowhere to be found.  But… participants could be part of the next big “find”!

According to the syllabus, this course was designed as an intense learning experience that was based on hands-on field experience in geology, evolution, paleontology, and modern biology and placed students into side-by-side work experience with scientists.  Each day was divided between the methodology science and the hands-on participation in data gathering and excavation at a dinosaur excavation site.  Some time was devoted to concepts of geology and the evidence for evolution from Dr. Hengst and Dr. Barrick.  This was supplemented by geobiology discussions and talks on the interplay between planet earth and life on the earth.  This was a perfect field setting for understanding the basis for evolution.  Evenings included discussions and lectures at the field camp sites that used digital images and measurement to further illustrate the history of life on earth.  Each day culminated with interpretations of data gathered that day, along with a discussion of the biology (anatomy, physiology, evolutionary & ecological) of dinosaurs as living, breathing, animals. 

Plains Indians: Conflicts, Resistance and Reservations

The field course, which was taught by PNC faculty Ronald Janke in June 2005 and June 2007, involved leaving from Valparaiso, driving to the Great Plains, and visiting the main “battle” sites of the Plains Indians – a revisit of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”.  Participants investigated the sites such asFort Sill (Geronimo), Washita, Sand Creek, Fort Robinson, Little Big Horn, and Wounded Knee.  They also visited, and in most cases, stayed at several Reservations, includingCrow, Northern Cheyenne, Pine Ridge, Rosebud Reservations, and trust land of the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache. If participants had ever dreamed of experiencing and sharing the life of the Plains Indians, this is the trip the perfect opportunity for them!

Glaciers in Alaska

This course, which was also taught by PNC faculty Ronald Janke in June 2005, was a five day field study of glaciers in south central Alaska. It included an introduction to glacial processes and land forms, and a viewing of different types of glaciers including small cirque glaciers, valley glaciers, and glaciers calving into lakes and tidewaters.  Locations visited included:Portage Lake, the Matanuska Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Prince William Sound.

There was hiking along the terminus of the glacier, and into the ice itself to view ice structures and modern glacial processes.  There was a boat trip to Kenai Fjords National Park to view calving and tidewater glaciers. 

Volcanoes in Hawaii

This course, taught by PNC faculty Ronald Janke in July 2005 reviewed the existing state of knowledge about volcanoes yet focused on recent research advances in Hawaii using the Hawaiian volcanoes as the natural outdoor laboratory.  This course also showed how volcanology is firmly based on physical principles.

Features of the program included visiting volcanically active Volcanoes National Park, older and newer lava fields, lava tree molds, lava cave tubes, active lava flows, PU’u O’o Crater, and a geothermal power plant.

Indian Mound Sites of the South –  taught by PNC faculty Ronald Janke

Exhange Program with Thailand – created and coordinated by PNC faculty Tantatape Brahmasrene

Aquatic Ecology – taught by PNC faculty D.K. Barnes

Great American Trails – taught by PNC faculty Walitz

Independent Study in Venezuela