Knowledge Without Borders Study Abroad Scholarships

Knowledge Without Borders Study Abroad Scholarships

Knowledge Without Borders™ recently selected first-generation college students participating in the Minnesota SPAN (Student Project for Amity among Nations) Association as recepients of the Knowledge Without Borders™ Study Abroad Scholarship.

SPAN is a study abroad association that has been sending Minnesota public and private college and university students to international destinations since 1947. Since its inception, nearly 3,000 SPANners have visited 93 countries on six continents. This summer, student scholars will pursue independent research projects in Morocco and Russia.

Creating “globally-minded and culturally competent” citizens has been SPAN’s mission for the last seven decades. Too often, students who could not afford the “extras” required to study abroad — visas, transportation, spending money — were excluded from the study abroad experience. Most of these students are first-generation students, defined as students whose parents have not completed four years of college.

As a first-generation student, so many opportunities were unknown to me.

Scholarships, such as the Knowledge Without Borders™ Study Abroad Scholarship, are trying to close that gap between a first-generation student’s aspiration to study abroad and the reality of the study abroad experience. In a recent survey, the SPAN Association found that 40 percent of its applicants were first-generation students, most with financial need. That 40 percent statistic mirrors the percentage of first-generation college students in higher educational institutions nationwide. First-generation students struggle to cross the financial borders that all-too-often prevent them from crossing the geographic borders of international study.

One first-generation university scholarship recepient, who will study in Morocco during the summer of 2017, reflects on the idea of “knowledge without borders.”

She writes:

I was thinking about what “knowledge without borders” means. As a girl from a small town, and a small high school, I had thought that those were my borders. Upon attending the university (University of Minnesota at Duluth), I was not sure where it would take me. As a first-generation student, so many opportunities were unknown to me. Although research abroad was not originally on my mind, I am so glad it was presented to me (by SPAN). I remember when I was not sure if going to college would be possible, but that border disappeared. Now, yet another line has faded as I ready myself to leave the country. I am excited to further open my mind, and bring home what I learn.”

First-generation students struggle to cross many borders in their lives. Supporting first-generation students in their quest to study abroad makes at least one border fade and disappear.


Karen Collias

My name is Karen Collias and I founded Knowledge Without Borders™ to infuse creativity and innovation into the most salient educational issues affecting global contemporary society. I attribute my enthusiasm to cross the borders of traditional knowledge domains to the multi-disciplinary nature of my education and professional experience. The first in my family to go to college, I have a Ph.D. from Columbia University. My professional experience focuses on interdisciplinary research, teaching, and strategic thinking at a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Department of State. I currently am crossing borders to write about creativity and innovation in education and philanthropy.



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