CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The Penn State Lehigh Valley CHANCE (Connecting Humans And Nature through Conservation Experiences) Program is accepting applications for a unique short-term study abroad program in Romania this spring and summer. Students at all Penn State campuses who are sophomores, juniors or seniors in spring 2023 and interested in conducting undergraduate research are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Feb. 1.
Five candidates will be chosen to participate in this renowned, multinational, two-part program. The first part will include seven weeks of online study in April and May, followed by a two-week session on-site in Romania in July. The program will focus on interdisciplinary water issues impacting the sustainability of the Danube Delta. The five Penn State students will be part of a group of 20 students from four European universities: Universite libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), National and Kapodistrian University (Greece), Aix-Marseille Universite (France), and the University of Bucharest (Romania). Five teams will include one student from each university.
Besides developing their high-level research skills through their work on the Danube River and its delta, students will build valuable “soft” skills, such as interpersonal communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and working with teams. At the end of the program, students will present their findings and propose possible solutions for the sustainability of the Danube River and Delta per the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UN SDGs) at an International Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Bucharest.
According to Jacqueline McLaughlin, PSU-LV associate professor of biology and founding CHANCE director, this is an opportunity for students to apply classroom concepts to real life.
“This program literally puts students in the Danube Delta to explore its magnitude and use research as the tool to understand the issues confronting its sustainability — all while working with some of the best scientists in Europe,” she said. “I believe this is what Penn State stands for — doing undergraduate research at a level where students are asking real-world questions while garnishing knowledge and skill sets to advocate for change, not only today but throughout their lifetimes.”
Additionally, the program will provide students with invaluable networking opportunities and a resume booster “like no other,” McLaughlin said. “[Students] will learn skills that are important for their careers, regardless of their major, such as working with people from other cultures and acquiring a sense of environmental advocacy. You can find a place for sustainability in any field.”