Bicentennial 'Grand Expedition' summer trips celebrate IU's leadership in international engagement

In the 1880s, half a century before most American universities started offering study abroad experiences, Indiana University students participating in "summer tramps" could catch a steamer from New York to Germany, tour Berlin, Dresden and Weimar, stop in Nuremberg and Munich on the way to Switzerland, travel by rail to Milan and Genoa, take another steamer to Marseilles, hop on a train to Paris and wrap up the summer with a week in England -- all for $300.

Last academic year, 3,044 IU Bloomington students studied abroad and received more than $4.5 million in study abroad gift aid -- an all-time high. Additionally, the campus ranked sixth among U.S. institutions for the number of students studying abroad in 2017-18, according to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

To celebrate the university's long tradition and sustained strength in international engagement and study abroad, the Office of the Bicentennial is organizing the "Grand Expedition," in June and July 2020, as one of its signature projects marking IU's 200th year.

"Commemorating the 19th-century trips abroad is a perfect way to honor IU's longstanding reputation as an institution that has long ensured that its students have access to other countries and cultures," said Kathleen Sideli, associate vice president for overseas study.

The Grand Expedition is based on IU's "summer tramps" of the 1880s and early 1890s, which represent some of the earliest -- if not the first -- examples of overseas study programs in the U.S.

Designed to provide students, alumni and friends of IU with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the Grand Expedition is a collection of trips and overseas study courses organized in partnership with the IU Alumni Association, the Office of Overseas Study, IU Outdoor Adventures, the Office of International Partnerships and the Office of the Bicentennial.

IU Outdoor Adventures will offer three expeditions: a climbing trip through the French Alps in the shadows of Mont Blanc; a multi-adventure trip that includes rafting, trekking and waterfall touring in Switzerland; and a trek along Eagle Walk in Austria, one of the most breathtaking trails in all of Europe. All options are beginner-friendly yet designed for physically fit participants ready for a challenge. Registration for all three options closes April 1.

Four IU campuses will offer nine academic courses abroad representing the seven countries visited during the 1885 summer tramp itinerary. They cover a wide range of disciplines, including history, chemistry, geology, health, literature, media, environmental studies and psychology. Students can travel the fjords of Norway, trek through Provence, walk pilgrimage routes in England and Italy and more. Detailed program descriptions are available on the Office of the Bicentennial website, including eligibility and application deadlines. Course fees are partially subsidized by the Office of the Bicentennial. Other scholarships and financial aid are also available.

Alumni will also have the chance to take part in the Grand Expedition with three trips: Berlin Arts and Music; Footsteps of Ernie Pyle; and Paris, Featuring the African American Experience with Tyron Cooper. Students and alumni will have an opportunity to connect with Hoosier alums living abroad during three receptions hosted by IU President Michael A. McRobbie in London, Berlin and Paris.