Study Abroad Courses

 Travel with Acara

Taken by Mazen | Alamri

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

Travel Dates: May 16-June 7, 2020

Course Fee: $5,000

Credits: 3 credit course

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.

Join us in India and you’ll:

  • Travel with students from every discipline interested in sustainable development and social innovation. 
  • 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.
  • CSE students: This course qualifies for a CEGE Tech elective (and other CSE departments have approved it as a tech elective in the past when students have petitioned). Mechanical Engineering students can count this course for “Specialization credit” (please note that you cannot receive specialization credits and LE credits for the same course.)  

Application Deadline: Open until filled email with interest


How do I apply? Visit the Learning Abroad page to learn about and begin the application process.

Who is eligible to apply? This course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students from all schools and majors at the University of Minnesota.

Are there scholarship opportunities? We are committed to keeping the course fee at or below $5,000. If you need financial aid to attend, consider applying for an Ecolab Experiential Education Scholarship.

Do I need to fly with the group, or can I book my own plane tickets? We usually ask students to fly together to make sure everyone gets through customs but  we can make exceptions for experienced travelers.

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

Past Courses: Last year’s syllabus can be found here (subject to change slightly).You can also learn more about previous student experiences on these blogs:


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

“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.”

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, 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.