Mandel School International Study-Abroad

3-Credit Study Abroad Courses:
The World Becomes Your Classroom

Open to all undergraduate and graduate students at Case Western Reserve (any major), the Mandel School’s short-term Study Abroad program offers 3-credit courses that offer the experience of a lifetime. Financial aid may be used. The program is currently accepting applications for Spring Break 2015 courses to Gautemala, Poland/Germany, and the Netherlands.

Contact: Dr. Debby Jacobson, Program Director, at

All study abroad courses are open to undergraduate and graduate students of all majors as 3 credit-hour electives led by Mandel School faculty. The curses can also count toward credit for Global or Cultural Diversity, Social Work Minor or Social Science course for Engineering. All require mandatory pre- and post-trip meetings and assignments. The tuition cost is the same as any elective course at Case Western Reserve. There is an additional program fee for each course, which includes cost of travel, hotel, some meals, etc. These courses may be taken as independent study with permission from your university. For interested professionals and students from other universities, there is an additional fee of $400.00 in place of tuition.

  • Study Abroad Courses are multi-disciplinary and have included in-depth study to countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.
  • Students meet with community and neighborhood leaders, researchers, faculty, policy makers, social workers, and other practitioners and clients.
  • Students participate in discussions about social issues, policies, and practices.
  • All programs have a minimum of two professionals traveling with the group and staying at the same accommodations.
  • Most programs include: International airfare (some programs), in-country travel, double or triple occupancy accommodations, facilitators, translation (where needed), international and regional staff to guide the trip, all program fees, agency visits, guest lecturers, and 1 to 3 meals (depending on the program).
  • Programs do not include: Passport, vaccinations and visas (where needed), tips, course credit hours/tuition, the non-student and non-CWRU student professional development fee of $400.00, transportation to and from Case to the airport, non-program travel and meals not included by the program.
New International Travel Website

Information Technology Services, in partnership with the Center for International Affairs, has launched a new website to assist faculty, staff and students who are preparing to travel internationally. The site includes helpful information and tips to prepare you for computing and communicating while abroad. Included on the site are descriptions of the types of devices that are needed to charge electronics in foreign outlets, how to obtain Internet service, tips for selecting an internationally capable cell phone, and instructions for making calls to the U.S. from a foreign location.

For more information, contact Debby Jacobson, PhD, Director of International Education Programs.

Expand the section to view course descriptions corresponding to each country.
Ecuador: SASS 375A / 575 – Health, Human and Social Development
Register for Fall

Mark Chupp, PhD and Sonia Minnes, PhD

This 3-hour experiencial course provides an integrated approach to the study of the multicultural issues related to policies and services that center around human and community development in Ecuador. Travel to Ecuador for two weeks to experience the capital city, Quito, spend time in the Amazon rain forest, live with a Quichua indigenous family, and spend a day with the Afro-indigenous community. The learning objectives will be accomplished through a series of visits in urban and rural Ecuador that expose you to basic knowledge of the country’s history, politics, economic system, delivery of social and health services, and the unique diversity of Ecuadorian citizens. You will have site visits that include programs in public and private hospitals, HIV/AIDS, education, child welfare, disaster interventions, trafficking in human persons, and U.S. Aid policy. Another highlight is a visit and service learning project with a center for families of young boys that work in the streets of Quito to make money for their families. The center is quite unique in its philosophy and service delivery. Other experiences include shopping at a traditional open air market in Otavalo, the largest in South America, visit to the equator, cultural museums, zip-lining, hiking volcanoes and mountains. You will also have free time in Quito to explore on your own.

Guatemala: SASS 375D / 575 Child Welfare

Zoe Breen Wood, PhD and Victor Groza, PhD

This 3-credit hour graduate and undergraduate course is designed to familiarize participants with the culture and history of Guatemala, as well as study child welfare from a community development perspective. All students will spend some time each morning to learn Spanish, followed by guided tours of programs. The experience will challenge participants to compare Guatemala with the United States at social, economic and political levels. The program is an intense, small group experience in living, learning, traveling and studying. Students will study child welfare issues, social services and indigenous community practices, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of social policies and human services in both Guatemala and the U.S. The course acquaints participants with the socio-political factors that influence the development of child welfare programs in the nongovernmental sector (private, nonprofit) and governmental sector in Guatemala. The role of the helping professions in child welfare are explored via agency visits, lectures and collaboration with Guatemalan professionals.

India: SASS 375 I / 575 (EECS 342 I) Global Issues, Health, and Sustainability

Register for Fall

Deborah Jacobson, PhD and Sree N. Sreenath, PhD

The 3-hour experiential course is an engineering, health and social work collaboration, which includes a short-term cross-cultural immersion. Travel to Southern India will take place for two weeks during winter break. This course brings together a social work perspective (knowledge, values and skills) to the understanding of technical project assessment, selection, planning and implementation in India. The course is also designed to help students understand culturally-relevant community engagement strategies to ensure project acceptance in under-served and developing communities. Many field sites will be visited in order to observe first-hand the community assessment and development of projects that engineers implement. An example of these projects could include infrastructure to support water and sanitation as well as projects around energy, agriculture, human rights, Child welfare and women empowerment. Our focus trip will be to Southern India, including the Silicon City of India Bangaluru (Bangalore) and Kerala. Examples of projects include: Nelle- a home for rage picker children, Akshay Patra – Food for Education, SVYASA – International University for Yoga Sciences, all in Silicon City of India-Bangaluru, Rural Solar Energy Project, Vivekanand Medical Mission- A medical mission for tribals in Kerala, Scenic backwaters of Kerala in house boats, Vivekanand Rock memorial at Kanyakumari – Southernmost tip of India, where 3 oceans meet (Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean) and we will visit the relaxing and biggest National Tiger reserve at Periyar- with elephant rides.

Netherlands: SASS 325, 375B, 375F & 575

There are three sections:
1) SASS 325 Social Justice – Undergraduates: Dean Grover Gilmore, Graduates: Mark Singer, PhD
2) SASS 375B / 575 Mental Health Issues and Practices – Patrick Boyle, PhD
3) SASS 375F / 575 Gender and Sexuality Justice – Elisabeth Roccoforte

These 3-hour courses during Spring Break in the Netherlands are for undergraduate and graduate students. They take place in Amsterdam and surrounding areas. This experience is designed to familiarize students and faculty with Dutch culture, social policies and practices for homelessness; prostitution, drug use, substance abuse, mental health, neighborhood social control, multicultural aspects of healthcare, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The trip includes guided tours of neighborhoods and social institutions, and daily lectures by government officials, practicing social workers and many of Holland’s most prominent scholars. The experience will challenge students to compare Holland with the United States and help students understand the strengths and weaknesses of social policies and human services in both countries.

Poland / Germany : SASS 375C / 575 Invisible Groups

Kathleen Farkas, PhD and Richard Romaniuk, PhD

This 3-hour Spring Break course for undergraduate and graduate students introduces students and faculty to Polish culture and Polish social policies and practices concerning disenfranchised, stigmatized and disempowered social groups. The course will encourage students to understand how Poland’s recent political and economic transformations affect society, in general, and some groups, in particular. The course will focus on how Polish society addresses problems of poverty, homelessness, aging, domestic violence and mental health disorders. In cooperation with the Institute of Sociology at the University of Poznan, students and faculty will use frameworks such as multiculturalism, social integration, feminism and determinants of social exclusion to understand Polish policy responses to various social phenomena. Students will have opportunities to engage government officials, practicing social workers, and some of Poland’s most prominent scholars in conversation. In addition to lectures and workshops, the trip includes guided tours of neighborhoods and social institutions. Cultural events and outings will provide additional insights into Polish society and the Polish people.


Course Topic


*Approximate Cost

Ecuador SASS 375A / 575
Health, Human and Social Development
Winter Break 2014
In Country:
Dec 28, 2015 – Jan 10, 2016
Seminars: TBA

Flight Included

Guatemala **SASS 375D / 575
Child Welfare
Spring Break 2015
In Country: Mar 7 – 15, 2015
Suggested Travel Date: Mar 6
Seminars: Jan 31, Feb 21, Apr 25
Flight Included
India SASS 375 I / 575, EECS 342 I
Global Issues, Health, and Sustainability
Winter Break 2014
In Country:
Dec 27, 2015 – Jan 11, 2016
Seminars: TBA
Flight Included
Netherlands SASS 375B / 575
Mental Health Issues and Practices
SASS 325 / 575
Social Justice – Health & Violence Prevention
SASS 375F / 575
Gender and Sexuality Justice
Spring Break 2015
In Country: Mar 8 – 16, 2015
Suggested Travel Date: Mar 6
Seminars: Jan 31, Feb 21, Apr 25
***Flight Not Included
Poland SASS 375C / 575
Invisible Groups
Spring Break 2015
In Country: Mar 7 – 15, 2015
Seminars: Jan 31, Feb 21, Apr 25
Flight Included

Courses during winter break must be registered as a Fall semester course, while courses during spring break and May term must be registered as a Spring semester course.

* Program fees are separate from tuition and include the following: in-country travel, most meals (depending on the program), double occupancy accommodation, instructional materials, agency visits, guest lecturers, program fees, most excursions and cultural events, and international airfare unless noted otherwise above. Fees will be billed with tuition from Bursar’s office and deposits will go through Office of International Affairs.

**Prior to applying for SASS 375D/575: Childwelfare, contact and arrange a meeting with either Victor Groza or  Zoe Breen Wood.

***There is a payment plan available for the flights between the Netherlands and Cleveland with the participating faculty. Contact and inquire about the following US Airways flights: 3885, 798, 799, 3751.

Mandel School Students

  • Contact Debby Jacobson to set up a meeting.
  • Contact Nancy Issa for Financial Aid eligibility details and procedures.
  • Apply for a course on Click on “program search.” Type MSASS under “Program Name.” Select the country you are interested in from the drop-down menu. Once you click on the Search button, information on the trip will appear at the bottom of the page. For any questions about the application, please contact or call 216-368-2517 .
  • Pay the $200 deposit to the Center for International Affairs. CWRU students: The rest of the program fee will be billed from the Bursar’s Office along with your tuition. Information on how to pay the deposit is on application. To pay online or in person via credit, call the Center for International Affairs: 216-368-2517.
  • Registration for CWRU students: Start your registration on SIS after your application is accepted. All students outside of the Mandel School require permission to register. A registrar from another department will be sent a request to give you permission.
  • Registration for students from other universities and interested professionals: Students from other universities should register for an Independent Study (or the equivalent) at their own university. The CWRU faculty will give the university instructor information on the student’s performance in the course. Students from other universities and interested professionals must pay the standard travel fees plus an administrative fee of $400. This fee covers some administrative costs of the program that is ordinarily covered by tuition.
  • Order a passport. If you already have a passport, check that the expiration date has not passed. Renew your passport if it expires within 6 months after the return date. For more information, see the U.S. Department of State’s site for U.S. Passports & International Travel or contact the National Passport Information Center (1-877-487-2778) for more information.
  • Order a visa. If you have a non-U.S. passport, please determine whether a visa is required. If a visa is needed, we strongly recommend that you use a visa service such as Travel or Although you do pay for their services, they will ensure that you have all the proper documents to obtain a visa in a timely manner.
  • Verify your medical insurance. Case Western Reserve does provide medical insurance (with restrictions) for all participants. In certain instances, including non-emergency medical situations, you may be required to pre-pay your medical care and/or related costs and then seek reimbursement afterward.
  • Update your vaccinations. Learn about vaccines prior to traveling. Please check the Center for Disease Control website unless you are traveling to the Netherlands and Poland, where vaccinations aren’t needed. Visit your family physician, health clinic, or the University Health Service (UHS) on the Case Western Reserve campus. UHS can provide students with any travel medicine and vaccines needed for trips. Students are only required to pay for vaccines or prescriptions that are filled at a pharmacy. To make an appointments, contact UHS (216-368-4539) or visit the UHS website.

Reflections from faculty and students on their study abroad experience.

Dr. Gary Ciepluch – Music Department, Director of Winds and Bands; Kenya 2008
As a faculty member at CWRU since 1988, one of the most important and unique opportunities available to our students has been the opportunity to enrich their educational experience through worldwide travel. I have witnessed firsthand the impact this experience has had on these students in ALL aspects of their life. The change in their view of the world, our own country and of themselves is truly a remarkable transformation. As an adviser to CWRU undergraduates, students who have studied abroad or took part in the MSASS program come back as different people. No program has more potential for student growth and development than MSASS. I have never seen a more positive, compassionate, caring, thoughtful and mature change in an individual as I did with a student of mine who was able to travel to Kenya last year through this program. The experience was “Life Changing” for her in ways almost indescribable. This program literally saved this person’s life. After this experience, what she perceived as “major” problems in her own life now became insignificant because of what she saw and experienced while abroad. This person has now dedicated her life to teaching and helping humanity because of a seemingly simple visit to satisfy a university requirement. I was never more proud of this university because of what this experience meant for her and for us. I look forward to steering others toward opportunities like this in the future.

Emily Garvey – Undergraduate, Nursing; Guatemala, Child Welfare
I was a participant on the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Science’s Travel and Study Seminar to Guatemala for the analysis of child welfare. I honestly believe that this was the absolute best experience of my life. The complete immersion into the culture of Guatemala was incredibly stunning and thought-provoking as we witnessed daily occurrences that average Americans would not even dream of. After reading background information on the state of the country and completing an annotated bibliography, actually experiencing the culture firsthand was so much more meaningful. It is one thing to read about poverty statistics, it is quite another thing to actually watch a four-year-old child climb out of a tent on the sidewalk that he calls home. Through written reflections and verbal conversations, I was able to digest the large amount of information that we heard, saw and learned every day of our trip. I truly believe that through my experiences in Guatemala, I have learned more than I ever could in a semester-long lecture class about myself, child welfare and the world.

Matthew Nemergut; Undergraduate, Accounting and Communications; India – Innovations in Social Development and Netherlands, Survey
Matthew Nemergut in India
I’ve been taking college classes for almost six years now. When I look back to my very first college class, I can’t believe how much I’ve changed, learned and grown. Surprisingly, a little off-the-cuff comment from my professor is the one thing that I remember most vividly from my college experience. “Don’t let college interfere with your education.” Sure, books and grades and school are important, but don’t forget that there is a world out there that you have to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear.
I can say that the one, single, most altering event in my time at Case was my opportunity to study abroad with MSASS. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Ohio. In stark contrast, I can say that the time I spent in India has given me an emotional attachment and personal investment in India. We had several meetings throughout the semester to talk about the papers we had to read, planning for the trip and what to expect. It was the only class that I’ve ever taken at Case where teleconferencing with a university hundreds of miles away was standard practice.
When I arrived in New Delhi, India, I was in complete shock. I’m used to seeing only thousands of people together for events like concerts, marathons or rallies. But in India, looking out the window on the 4th floor of my building I could see thousands of people sleeping on the streets, hanging clothes from balconies or pedaling rickshaws. In one glimpse, the little bubble of the world that I had created by spending 22 years in North America had been shattered. India was no longer just a faint outline on the other side of a globe. It was a place that was full of interesting and diverse people with breathtaking architecture.

Danielle Cooper, MSSA/MNO dual degree; Poland 2012


While in Poland, not only did we have the opportunity to learn about how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other organizations provide services to vulnerable populations, we had the chance to meet and interact on a personal level with students who are studying social work and in the future would be providing these services. We also were able to lean about the history of Poland and Poznan in particular.

On the last day of the trip, there was a student symposium between students at Case Western Reserve University and Adam Mickiewicz University. Students discussed different ways that services are being provided in Poland and the way services are provided in the states. This was not just a one-sided exchange on who is doing what better, but it was wanting to incorporate how they approach providing services and wanting to implement programs that way to being able to see how the foundation of the programs are similar. What I took away not just from the student symposiums but from all of the organizations I had the opportunity to meet with, was the way that organizations collaborated with each other and are interdependent on each other.

One day we visited MONAR, an NGO that provides services to individuals who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. One thing I learned was that police officers are trained to go to places that addicts are known to frequent, such as under bridges, and convince them that they should seek treatment. We also visited City Hall where we learned that when social workers visit families and police officers, they dress down and attempt to blend in so as not to shame the families.

Read a cross-cultural perspective from Mandel School faculty member and alumnus Patrick Boyle.

Check out photo galleries from India, EcuadorPoland, and the Netherlands.