This opportunity is available Spring 2020
Protect Students Abroad (PSA)
In 2011, Thomas Plotkin died during study abroad. In 2012, Ravi Thackurdeen died during study abroad. In 2013, their moms met. Elizabeth Brenner and Ros Thackurdeen shared their astonishment that no state or federal requirement exists for education travel programs to collect and share student deaths and injuries. While students are heavily marketed with information about the benefits of student travel programs, there’s literally no industry-wide safety database. Therefore, a student’s ability to make fully informed education abroad decision is incomplete.
Students deserve transparency. This is the reason why PSA was born. Elizabeth and Ros have organized to educate the public, advocate with state and federal leaders, and pressure education abroad professionals and institutions to collect and report travel program safety information.
In 2015, PSA launched a website to distribute information. Using the Internet and word-of-mouth, they collect education abroad student deaths and non-lethal safety incidents. This information is uploaded on their website. PSA also speaks at conferences and attends state and federal meetings with legislative staff. Since 2014, two states have passed transparency laws, with two more states in process. Multiple times, two federal laws have been introduced to the House. This year, both bills also have Senate sponsorship. All bills have been referred to committees, though none has yet received a hearing.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, PSA had the privilege of working with two Vassar student interns. One intern used Excel to build a searchable spreadsheet of education abroad student deaths and injuries. The other worked on legislative outreach, including attending meetings in Albany and Washington, D.C.
This year, we again hope to have two interns. PSA’s data project will continue, with one intern focused on using this information to better understand relationships between variables and fatality. The second intern will work on legislative outreach, with an emphasis on using social media to educate and mobilize various communities.
If interested in working with PSA, please submit a CV, as well as any questions or comments to Elizabeth and Ros. (Web and email addresses below.)