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Information for Faculty

Leading a study abroad program at the Steger Center gives you the opportunity to teach students abroad from the convenience of the Villa Maderni, your home base in Switzerland. It allows you to teach and mentor your students in ways that are not typical in Blacksburg. You will often spend eight or more hours per day in the Steger Center with the students, both in a formal classroom setting and informally, such as in the cafeteria. This allows you to form closer relationships with your students and guide their learning beyond the academic sphere.

I have been teaching in and directing a study abroad program at Virginia Tech’s Steger Center for International Scholarship (SCIS) in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland for 8 years now. I find that it is an ideal location for study abroad. The SCIS offers the best of both worlds: a small, bucolic, Swiss Italian village in which faculty and students can focus on their work and dwell in local culture, and easy reach to vast academic and cultural resources across the rest of continental Europe through low-cost airfares at Milan’s Malpensa Airport, which is only one hour south of the facility. The SCIS facility itself is likewise the best of both worlds: a beautiful 18th century villa on the front end for faculty offices and student living spaces, and a 21st century dining facility and classroom space on the back end with the exact same information technology systems we use in Blacksburg. Finally, the SCIS Staff, headed by Managing Director Daniela Doninelli, is incredibly helpful in every aspect of faculty and student support, including arranging for group travel and troubleshooting all manner of faculty and student problems.

– Paul Heilker, PGS Faculty Director

Yannis Stivachtis and European Affairs program students
Neuroscience program students and faculty in Riva by Lake Lugano
Architecture students working in studio
A classroom at Villa Maderni
Exterior shot of the Villa Maderni in Riva San Vitale

The Global Education Office and on-site staff at the Steger Center are here to help make your program a success. Read the menus to learn about leading a program at the Steger Center and contact us with questions. For general information about faculty-led study abroad, please see the Global Education website.

Developing a new study abroad program at the Steger Center is a big commitment, but the payoff is equally as great. We recommend you begin the development process at least 12-18 months in advance of the intendent program start date. For general information about program development, please see the Global Education website.

Faculty members interested in proposing a program at the Steger Center should first meet with Bob Bodnar, Director of Academic Programs, to discuss program development, logistics, and availability at the Steger Center. After it is confirmed that the Steger Center can accommodate the program, you must submit a program proposal through the GEO program approval process, after which it will be reviewed by the Global Education Approval Committee (GEAC).

Developing a budget is an important step in running a successful program. The Global Education Office can assist you in building your program budget. A budget template for programs at the Steger Center can be found here. For general budgeting information, please see the Global Education website. Below are some considerations specific to programs at the Steger Center:

  • The Steger Center currently covers costs for faculty lodging during fall/spring programs and Swiss costs for faculty visas/work permits.
  • The GEO will bill students a $600 non-refundable Steger Center deposit after they are accepted. This goes toward the cost of room and board.
  • The University Bursar sets Steger Room & Board costs for semester-long programs. For 2019-20, the cost is $7,100. There are also special tuition and fee rates for Steger Center programs.
  • For summer programs, the standard room & board rate is $120/day for students and faculty. This is typically built into the program fee.
  • To practice good stewardship of student program funds, the recommended per diem for faculty in Riva San Vitale is $40 based on the cost of meals at the Steger Center.

Program excursions are a way to take advantage of Switzerland’s strategic location and bring your teaching outside of the classroom. Past and current excursion locations include Paris, Naples, Athens, and a trek through the Alps, to name just a few.

Make sure your excursion location complements the course content and allows for student learning opportunities in the traditional academic sense and in terms of intercultural learning. You may want to develop special activities or invite guest speakers as well.

The Steger Center closes for two separate weeks during the semester, which is when you should schedule excursions. You may choose to conduct more than two group excursions; however, be cautious that the additional excursions do not make the program cost prohibitive. 

Faculty stay in apartments in Riva San Vitale, typically a 5-10 minute walk from the villa. The apartments are comfortable with amenities such as a kitchen and Wi-Fi. The Steger Center currently covers the cost of housing faculty in apartments during semester-long programs.

Switzerland is a safe country with health services comparable to the United States.

You play an important role, together with the Global Education Office and the Steger Center on-site staff, in ensuring the health and safety of your students.

Prior to departure, you will:

  • Research and understand the health and safety risks of Switzerland and program excursion locations
  • Receive emergency contact cards from the GEO/Steger Center
  • Receive important health information from the student voluntary health disclosure form (provided by the GEO)
  • Conduct pre-departure meetings to prepare students to study abroad (in conjunction with the GEO if desired)
  • Be enrolled in required CISI travel medical insurance by the GEO
  • Coordinate an international communication plan with your cell phone provider or department

While you are abroad, the on-site staff is available to support you and the students in case of any health or safety emergencies. For more information about health and safety, visit the Global Education website.

All faculty leaders must have a passport valid at least 6 months beyond the program end date. Information about applying for or renewing a passport can be found here.

Faculty who will stay in Switzerland for more than 8 days are required to apply for and obtain a Swiss visa. If a visa and work permit are required, you will work directly with Daniela Doninelli, the Managing Director of the Steger Center, to apply. This process should begin at least 4 months in advance of your intended arrival in Switzerland.