Study Abroad Courses

 Travel with Acara

Taken by Mazen | Alamri

CEGE 4581 / CEGE 5570 / PA 5790: Design for Sustainable Development – India

May 14-June 5, 2020 | 3 credits

This multidisciplinary course takes place in Bangalore, India’s fast-growing mega-city and entrepreneurship hub, where rural meets urban, where poverty meets wealth, where environmental and quality of life issues are distinctly intertwined. While enjoying a deep dive into India’s delicious food and diverse culture, you will work in teams with local partners to research and design sustainable solutions to real social and environmental challenges. By the end of the course, you will feel at home in the dynamic and vibrant culture that is India today and gain a deeper appreciation for the challenge of balancing sustainability and economic development.

  • Travel with undergraduates and graduate students from every discipline interested in sustainable development and social innovation. Past students have had majors in management, product design, political science, engineering, environmental science, and more.
  • Learn from and with Indian college students participating in the course.
  • Develop skills in intercultural competence, design ethnography, and social entrepreneurship.
  • Contextualize social and environmental challenges in the complex economic, cultural, and political landscape in which they exist.
  • Network with like-minded students who are interested in solving the world’s grand challenges.
  • Gain an appreciation for India’s delicious food and diverse culture
  • Learn about opportunities to get funding and continue your work once the trip is over.
  • Meet both your Global Perspectives and Technology and Society LE requirements.  Some engineering programs will also accept the course as a technical elective!

 “If you are looking to better understand the Grand Challenges of the developing world, deep-dive into a culture wholly different from your own, and leave with a better understanding of your professional goals and personal values CEGE 4581/5570 is the course for you. Traveling to India is a 3 week crash course in solving multi-disciplinary problems related to sustainable development that requires you to challenge your assumptions about cultural norms and expectations. Immersing yourself in India’s rich food and culture will shift how you view not only the challenges of the developing world but also the challenges and values of your own culture.”  (Student from May 2019)

This course will be offered during the 2020 May term as a collaboration with the College of Science and Engineering and Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Students will earn three credits and have the opportunity to meet Global Perspectives & Technology and Society LE requirements and/or a CEGE Tech elective in this three-week study abroad course to Bangalore, India.

The class will have four pre-departure meetings in Minnesota in spring 2020. Program dates will be announced soon. The program cost will be approximately $5,000/student. This class is open to upper-level undergraduates (sophomores and above) and graduate students at the University of Minnesota. Last year’s syllabus can be found here (subject to change slightly). More details, including the application process, will be made available on the study abroad site. If you need financial aid to attend, consider applying for an Ecolab Experiential Education Scholarship.

The deadline to apply is February 2 @ 10pm. 

Learn more about previous student experiences on these blogs written during previous courses:

My three weeks in India were three of the most eye-opening and incredible weeks of my life. I was inspired by people I met, challenged to rethink my views on culture and sustainability, and pushed to learn more than I could’ve imagined. I went to India feeling lost on what I wanted to do with my life, and left feeling excited by opportunity and empowered to enact change and pursue a career path I find meaningful. It also helped me make connections and opened doors to start on that path; I don’t say it lightly when I say that the trip changed the course of my life.

Anonymous Student, May 2019

Hearing from a variety of people and types of organizations was very helpful in understanding how many challenges are interconnected and where to look for solutions and implementing systems that work.

Anonymous Student, CE 5570, May 2016

PA 5790 : Convergence Lab – Puerto Rico: Energy, Justice and Community Resilience

Travel dates: January 3-17, 2020

Course fee: $2,500 + flight cost

Course fee includes lodging, travel from site to site in Puerto Rico, site visits (see the 2019 itinerary for more details), and group dinners.

During this course students explore development, environment, engineering, policy and infrastructure issues attached to Energy Transitions reciprocally between Puerto Rico and Minnesota. The course is a multidisciplinary approach to thinking about Energy Transition through a partnership with the School of Architecture and Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Through working with community partners in Vieques and Ponce, students will develop awareness of social, economic, and technical challenges facing humanity, and also learn inter-cultural and interdisciplinary skills, including communication, local histories, and non-expert knowledge.

While exploring sustainable development in the context of energy transition in Puerto Rico, students will learn how to create effective market-based approaches to development challenges, and also why design solutions develop and operate differently across geographies.

Application Deadline: November 1st 

Orientation Dates:   November 12 (6-8 pm)

                                  November 21 (6-8 pm)

                                  December 11 (6-8 pm)

Course work: This course is available for 1-3 credits. It is a flexible credit offering to work best with your schedule, but all students expected to do 3 credits of work. You can view the 2019 syllabus to learn more about what to expect for workload.


Can I fly in/leave early? Yes, you are welcome to arrive early or depart after course dates for personal travel, work, etc. You are expected to be present for course dates and group travel Jan 3-17th, 2020.

Do I have to know anything about energy to take this course? No, this course is highly interdisciplinary and does not require any background knowledge of energy and utility systems.

Are there scholarships or financial aid available? We recommend students to contact university departments and graduate school student groups for external funding opportunities.

I can’t make it to any of the orientation dates. Can I still apply? Yes, we are open to accommodating missed orientation sessions and changing session times to meet the needs of all applicants.

Want to learn more about what last year’s course looked like?

Check out the Global Convergence Lab website for January 2019, which includes blog posts, research, and more. Plus, check out this blog post by the College of Design at UMN that highlights the course.