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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

GESI Students

The GESI program and ULA merge to offer “one-stop shop” experience for study abroad

The Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) program and the Office for Undergraduate Learning Abroad (ULA) have merged into one unit. Led by Director Sara Tully, this new office will make study abroad services even more accessible to Northwestern students interested in international academic experiences.

“The integration of offices means that we now have a ‘one-stop shop’ supporting education abroad for Northwestern students,” Tully says. “We will offer both students and faculty greater clarity about where to seek help and explore opportunities.

“Establishing the new office, within a new organizational framework that supports integrated approaches to global education, is the logical next step following on the merger of the former Study Abroad Office and Office of International Program Development in 2017.

“With the integration, we have the ability to draw on our team members’ collaborative relationships with faculty and student service offices across the University. Our team’s in-house expertise covers a full range of education abroad program types and student advising services. We’ll be relying on this foundation of partnerships and program knowledge as we move forward with efforts to expand offerings supporting experiential learning, including overseas research and internship opportunities.

Patrick Eccles will continue to direct the GESI program, and the program itself will proceed as usual for 2019.

“GESI has made it a top priority to lower barriers of entry to study abroad. The once winding road to study abroad for students at Northwestern will be straightened out through a full integration, giving students a simpler and more direct route to beginning their study abroad journeys,” Eccles says. “It also means that a once stand-alone program will benefit from the services of a larger office, the expertise, and support of wonderful colleagues that will help us to strengthen the GESI program. I see it as a win-win.”

While the office has expanded its team and services, Tully says what won't change is the “ongoing commitment we all share to helping students find the best fit for their individual academic needs and interests, to providing academically-rigorous, immersive learning opportunities, to fostering mutually-beneficial partnerships, and to reducing barriers so that all Northwestern undergraduates have opportunities for degree-relevant learning abroad.”

The universal deadline for all Northwestern study abroad programs, including GESI and the Global Poverty Research Lab's new Ghana program, is February 10. Learn more at