Border Studies Program Policies and Procedures

The Border Studies Program (hereafter: “Program”) is designed to assist students in acquiring more complex and sophisticated analyses of issues related to migration, identity (including students’ own positionalities), and social justice. Participants on this Program have the unique opportunity to make connections between communities through direct living, working and traveling that accompany academic study. Throughout these experiences, students are challenged to reflect upon their roles and to critically think about the ways in which they choose to participate in movement building and community work.

The Program is centered in rigorous academic work including classroom study, meaningful community engagement, and personal experience. Each student lives with a host family throughout their stay in the Borderlands. Students participate in two core seminars that explore the salient topics of settler colonialisn, decoloniality, critical race theory, queer theory, transnational feminisms, women of color and indigenous feminisms, neoliberalism, mass incarceration, environmental justice, food sovereignty, social movements, and abolition. The program also includes a travel component, which may take students to central and southern Mexico, El Paso, and throughout the Arizona/Sonora Borderlands, where students learn from community members and organizations as well as engage in service to support grassroots efforts occurring at different sites. Furthermore, all students are immersed in an extended field study placement (internship) with different community organizations and schools in the Tucson area. Lastly, through the Spanish class and associated community engagements, as well as home life, students continue to strengthen their Spanish skills.

The Program offers students opportunities to explore alternatives to the policies that have influenced current patterns of migration and border enforcement, to speak with communities of people on both sides of the border resisting contemporary militarization and development schemes that put their lives at risk, and to dialogue about what meaningful solidarity can look like.

Program Management
The Border Studies Program is managed by Earlham College and is housed under Earlham’s Center for Global Education (CGE). The Program has full-time, on-site faculty. The on-site faculty and CGE share responsibility for implementing the policies and procedures of the Program

Student Eligibility to Apply for the Border Studies Program
The Border Studies Program is open to students from all academic backgrounds and majors in good standing at any college or university. All participants must be full-time undergraduate students.

One year of college-level Spanish (or equivalent) are required prior to the beginning of the spring semester program.  If you are unsure about your abilities or do not have any Spanish language ability but the program interests you, please contact the Program Faculty at

Each student’s college or university may have different eligibility requirements for off-campus study. Every applicant must ensure that they meet the specific criteria set forth by their college as well as those established by the Border Studies Program. Please make an appointment with your off-campus study advisor as well as your academic advisor to make sure you are eligible at your home campus. (If you are an international student in the United States, please see your international student advisor as well.)

Selection Criteria
Criteria for selection include but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Carefully prepared application materials
  • Appropriateness of the Program for the student
  • Personal qualities of the student and ability to benefit from and contribute to the Program in its specific cultural contexts
  • Special competencies and requirements (such as language skills or prerequisites for courses)
  • Demonstrated emotional stability and maturity, indicating the ability to lead a stable, responsible and healthy lifestyle (see home campus policies for eligibility and procedures)
  • Academic status: students must be in good academic status at their college (see home campus policies as well)
  • Program limitations and priority factors: if there are more applicants than there are spaces in the Program, priority will be given based on factors such as quality of overall application including the above-mentioned criteria, as well as seniority, ability to participate at a later date, previous experience in an off-campus program, and academic major or minor
  • Presentation in interview with program faculty
  • Late Applications: students who submit applications after the published deadline should include a written explanation of why their application is late

The Student Selection Process
A selection committee composed of the Program Faculty reviews the application materials. In addition to the application materials, an interview is also an important component of the selection process. The interview may be in person, via telephone, or via Skype or Zoom, depending on the situation.

After the selection of students has been made, the CGE will send a letter to all applicants informing them of the results. In some cases, students may be placed on a waiting list. If there is a withdrawal from the Program, a waitlisted applicant may be admitted at that time.

The Student Acceptance Process
The CGE informs students of the results of the selection process in a formal notification sent by email. Faculty may inform students after the formal letter from CGE has been sent. Students are informed of the Conditions of Acceptance in the acceptance letter. Participation in the Program is contingent upon:

  • Continued good standing with the home College
  • Satisfactory academic work prior to the Program
  • Willingness to be a cooperative and responsible group member throughout the experience
  • Full participation in Program activities
  • Completion and submission of all required documentation via the online applicant portal.

Failure to meet all of the above the conditions may result in a student being dismissed from the Program.

Cost & Billing
The cost of the Border Studies Program will be announced in March of each year. Students are responsible for travel costs to and from the Program site, for costs of independent travel, for books and materials, for passport, visa and health costs, and for personal expenses.

Students or their home campuses will be billed by Earlham College. Students will inform the Earlham College Center for Global Education whether to bill them directly or to bill their home college.

For students paying for the program directly, the comprehensive program fee for 2021-22 academic year is $26,020. This fee includes: all program tuition and fees, housing and most meals with a host family, a stipend for weekday lunches, all program travel and excursions costs, costs of supporting the field study (internship) placements, and a local transportation pass for Tucson. Not included are: travel to and from Tucson, funds for personal expenses and entertainment, and the cost of maintaining your health insurance.

For students whose colleges pay some but not all costs on their behalf, the fee breaks down as follows:

Tuition and fees (including excursions) $21,520
Housing $3,375
Meals stipend $1,125

Participation in the Program is voluntary, but students agree to participate in the Program and cooperate with the program faculty and the group in all aspects of the Program.

Student Withdrawal from Program
Students who withdraw from the Program should notify the Center for Global Education at Earlham College immediately by phone or e-mail, followed by a withdrawing in the online applicant system. Students who withdraw from the Program, or who do not meet acceptance policies and cannot participate, will be required to compensate the College for expenses already committed on their behalf.

All students on the Border Studies Program are required to have medical insurance that covers them when they are outside of the United States. In addition to personal health insurance coverage, Earlham provides students, faculty, and staff on the Border Studies Program with travel insurance for the international portions of the program through Travel Guard by AIG Insurance. Earlham also provides all students on our Programs with access to a wellness support service with 24/7 triage counseling services and online, self-guided resources.

Program Dismissal
Program Faculty, in consultation with the CGE at Earlham, has the authority to establish expectations necessary for the operation of the Program. Should the Program Faculty or Executive Director of the CGE decide that a student must be terminated from the Program, that decision will be final.

Expectations include:

  • Satisfactory academic work
  • Ability to meet the financial obligations of the Program
  • Willingness to be a responsible and cooperative group member
  • Following Program rules and expectations
  • Upholding laws and regulations of the all jurisdictions visited
  • Maintaining personal health and mental health to promote effective participation
  • Disclosure of material information requested by the Program
  • Appropriate conduct in the host community, host country, and host family.

Conduct that is potentially dangerous to the student or to others, such as the use or possession of illegal drugs or excessive alcohol consumption, may result in dismissal from the Program. Serious physical or mental health issues that hinder the student’s ability to participate successfully may also result in removal from the Program. Students who are dismissed from a Program or who leave a Program early will receive no credit for the semester.

The CGE and the Program Faculty will work together to coordinate a student’s return trip and to coordinate information on the student’s home campus.

Risks & Responsibilities
Participation in an off-campus semester Program involves risks not found in study at the College. These may include but are not limited to: risk involved in traveling to and within and returning from the Program site; political, legal, social and economic conditions; different standards of design, safety and maintenance of buildings, public places and conveyances; local medical and weather conditions. Students assume responsibility for their actions and well being at all times: prior to the Program, during the Program, during the independent periods, and following the Program. It is the responsibility of the student to consult with the United States Consulate and other appropriate agencies and authorities regarding the advisability of travel to other areas in the region if traveling overseas. Prior to international travel during the Program, students are asked to register with their national embassy in the country in which they will travel. Students must accept these risks and responsibilities.

Arrival and Departure from Program Site
Students are required to arrive at the Program site by the date and time specified. Students are expected to complete the Program and remain at the Program site until the specified departure date. Students who arrive prior to or depart after the scheduled Program dates are responsible for their own costs.

Courses, Academic Credit, and Grades
Students are required to be enrolled full-time throughout the Program and will be enrolled in all of the courses offered on the Border Studies Program. Independent studies, audits, the Credit/No Credit option, and variable credit are not permitted.

Credit is awarded only as indicated on the course schedule.

Grades from the Border Studies Program will be included on the Earlham transcript sent to each student and home College. Students must complete the entire semester Program on-site in order to receive any academic credit.

Student Conduct & Health
Students are required to follow the conduct requirements of the Border Studies Program. Students are required to be in good physical, mental, and emotional health to complete the Program.

Students who participate in Earlham off-campus study programs are required to be up-to-date on all vaccines and inoculations listed as needed for their specific Program, including a COVID-19 vaccination. There will be no exceptions to this policy for philosophic or religious reasons.

Accommodations for Disabilities

The Border Studies Program strives to be as accessible as possible to students with varying needs and disabilities. This includes making reasonable efforts to accommodate students with particular dietary needs, learning disabilities and mobility restrictions. When possible, accommodations for learning disabilities will match those offered at a student’s home campus. The Border Studies Program faculty and program director are always happy to answer any additional questions you may have about accessibility and accommodation.

Independent Travel
Students are responsible for their expenses during the independent travel period. Students must inform Program Faculty of independent travel outside of Tucson. At certain times, depending on local, national, and global conditions and events, independent travel may be restricted.

Breakage, Damage or Loss of Items
Students who are responsible for breakage or damage in the living situations or in the classroom setting will be charged for the cost of repair or replacement. Students who lose host family or other keys pertaining to the Program will be charged for replacement and other associated costs.

Program Evaluation
Students are expected to complete all Program Evaluations in the online applicant platform.

Program Changes
Earlham College reserves the right to terminate or alter the Border Studies Program at any time and for any reason, without prior notice. Every attempt will be made to keep students apprised of these changes as they arise.