Academic Credit: Heighten Your Experience

Earn Academic Credit With GIVE

This is not your average college course.

Step out of the classroom and into the world for credit. Earn academic credit for taking action on your GIVE trip with our 3-credit Ecotourism course! Immerse yourself in a unique travel experience for academic credit outside the classroom that will enrich your GIVE experience.

Earn academic credit to heighten your experience, deepen your learning, and transform your world view.

“The immersive experience can’t be replicated in a classroom. Standing knee-deep in water clearing invasive species side-by-side with local leaders who describe the intricacies of their ancient fishponds is not something students can absorb by reading.”
– Ken Cohen, Ph.D FCS/Recreation and Sustainable Tourism (read more!)

“I found that participating in the academic course created a deeper relationship between the experience and myself. Overall I felt more involved, engaged, and connected to what I was doing.”

– Corrine Pruett, Past Tanzania GIVEr

“The English language could not adequately describe how intellectually enriching the course was. It serves to educate individuals on their host land before they get there and the discussions during the trip push boundaries to make you think more deeply about yourself and the world around you.”

– K.T., Past Hawai’i GIVEr (read more!)

What is GIVE’s academic course?

Our accredited, 3-credit Ecotourism course is designed around GIVE trips to deepen your learning and heighten your experience. This interdisciplinary ecotourism course enhances the first-hand learning that naturally occurs during your trip. The course aligns seamlessly with your GIVE trip, allowing you to fully engage on the trip itinerary while receiving academic credit. We have an Ecotourism course for undergrads and Expeditionary Learning Practicum for graduate students in Tanzania, Thailand, and Hawaii! The course is in partnership with the University of Cortland, a member of the SUNY system of New York, the largest comprehensive system of universities in the United States. The SUNY system is widely recognized and credits are transferable to other universities. 

Earning academic credit provides opportunities for global experiential learning that applies to a wide variety of majors and disciplines. You will apply critical thinking skills, field observations, and reflective processing to explore and reveal the contextual impacts and opportunities associated with your ecotourism projects.

You’ll learn about the three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) and be challenged to reflect on your ability to change the world through a combination of experiential learning, dialogue circles, self-reflection, and traditional education. This course optimizes cultural immersion, expands your perspectives on ecotourism and enriches personal growth. It’s challenging intellectually, physically, and emotionally and will heighten your experience.

Course Dates & Fees

Reserve your spot on our GIVE trip dates with our accredited Ecotourism course! The tuition for our 3-credit course is only $900 (New York in-state residents) or $1,200 (New York out-of-state residents), which is much less than most universities’ 3-course credit classes. All coursework is pre-trip and post-trip, and remember, the trip cost includes everything once you arrive!


2-week trip with an Ecotourism Course (online pre & post-trip) to earn 3 academic credits!

*The academic course is in addition to your volunteer trip
* Trip dates are based on Demand. GIVE reserves the right to change program dates


How Does academic credit Work?

Through a combination of pre-trip online assignments, discussion groups on the ground, and a meaningful post-trip final project, you will learn while being immersed in culture on your GIVE journey. The combination of on-the-ground experience and coursework will deepen your global proficiency and create leadership skills that’ll set you apart! Academic credit spots are limited, so make your deposit to reserve your space!


Get the knowledge to connect and engage with the locals! Complete pre-trip projects on an online platform before your trip.


Apply your pre-trip knowledge to your immersive experience and expand your awareness through dialogue circles and reflective journaling.

Post Trip

Synthesize your trip into a final project, such as a multimedia presentation, video, or paper to share and inspire others.

Now what?

Stand out from the crowd with your leadership skills and resume! Join a network of sustainable development experts.

Academic Credit FAQ’s

What academic courses are available?

We have an academic course available on select GIVE trip dates in Tanzania, Thailand, and Hawai’i to enhance your experience and further immerse you in our host communities. Course options:

  1. Ecotourism 315 course for undergrads

  2. Expeditionary Learning Practicum 678 for graduate students

Who can take the course?

Anyone can take our courses! The majority of course participants are undergrad and graduate students, however, you don’t have to be a student to take the course. Our courses are an unparalleled experience that will enhance your GIVE trip, heighten your experience, deepen your learning on the ground, and transform your worldview.

Our academic course is available on select trip dates in Tanzania, Thailand, and Hawai’i. Course options:

  1. Ecotourism 315 course for undergrads

  2. Expeditionary Learning Practicum 678 for graduate students

Program Overview

In partnership, SUNY Cortland (a member of the State Universities of New York) and GIVE provide credit-bearing academic opportunities for students, from a variety of disciplines, in an international setting that optimizes cultural immersion to deepen learning and enrich personal growth. The course is challenging intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Students engage in hands-on experiential learning side-by-side with community members to address complex issues and deliver sustainable solutions.

Course Format

Our 3 credit course hybrid course is offered to complement GIVE’s excursions on specific trip dates and locations. Online modules are delivered online pre-trip with an international immersion component added in-country.

Pre-Trip (Online): Prepare for and enhance your trip by understanding the local community you will live in as well as gain a firm understanding of sustainable development techniques before you even leave! The online course will start one week prior to your trip departure date.

In-Country: The international coursework during your excursion consists of a daily journal and interactive dialogue circles to process your day’s activities and reflect on discoveries. Students engage in hands-on experiential learning side-by-side with community members and fellow volunteers to address complex issues and deliver sustainable solutions. Together the students, instructor, guides, and local community members co-generate learning.

Post-Trip Project (Online): Create a portfolio that synthesizes your trip’s experiences, issues, impacts and insights. Submit your project online one week after you return home.

Course Description

Academic Course (3-Credits) to enhance your GIVE trip: Study away, explore the field of ecotourism on your GIVE trip and earn 3-course credits! Led by Professor Ken Cohen, this course (REC/GRY 315) explores sustainability issues and opportunities related to ecotourism and how they work within cultural, environmental, and economic frameworks. Volunteer with local non-profit organizations and partners that focus on preserving the environment while welcoming tourists.

Students will apply critical thinking skills, field observations, and reflective processing to explore and reveal the contextual impacts and opportunities associated with international sustainable development projects. Through cultural immersion and experiential learning in an international setting, students engage in applied activities designed to broaden international perspectives while providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. Hybrid course: experiential learning session in an international setting and pre and post-online assignments. Note: if your university is on semesters, your university will convert credit hours to semesters in the transfer process.

Course Design

The course is based on a transformative service-learning pedagogy that delivers a precise sequence of activities (contextual border crossing, dissonance, personalizing, processing, reflection, and integration). The design is generated to elevate the students’ experience to transcend their self-referential experience into a shared experience with the destination communities that compels a greater understanding of the students’ role as a member of a global community.

Learning opportunities are embedded throughout the program’s itinerary and enriched through activities typically associated with service-learning: cross-cultural engagement, field notes, dialogue, reflective journaling, and cumulative analysis of how the experience will be integrated into the student’s personal, academic, and professional aspirations.

Sample learning opportunities and projects include: living in the host community, and collaborating with local community members to design and construct community infrastructure (examples include a technical school in Nicaragua built from recycled plastic bottles and a freshwater delivery system for the village of Cairo, Zanzibar). Tours and projects include visiting a mangrove sanctuary and doing a hands-on planting project, measuring and releasing endangered sea turtles, exploring the economic and cultural complexities associated with poaching prior to participating in a safari, assisting a women’s art cooperative, and developing and delivering an after-school English education program for elementary school children. All projects are part of a long-term strategic approach to community-based economic development.

Course Evaluation

The course has four components, each worth 25% of the total available points for the course. Details for each of the assignments below will be provided via the syllabus once the student is enrolled in the course.

1. Pre-departure on-line assignment

a. Students are provided with sources to navigate and discover information pertaining to the cultural, political, economic, and environmental dimensions of their destination country and community. Students may select from a variety of prompts and resources that reflect their interests and academic field of study.

b. Self-assessment to consider how the information retrieved relates to their cultural awareness of the destination community and how it influences their expectations in light of their own cultural context.

2. Participation
Experiential learning requires a commitment to fully and positively participate in all programs, projects and activities. Participation will be evaluated by the on-site GIVE lead guides.

3. Reflective Journal
Students shall keep a double entry field journal noting key observations and their interpretation of those observations. These notes will be shared as part of regularly scheduled group dialogues. The notes and group discussions will enhance the students’ ability to process and reflect on their experience. Each student will generate a reflective journal. Reflection is a critical dimension of experiential learning. Exemplar quotes from the journal will be shared with the instructor.

4. Final Project
The culminating project synthesizes the assignments above into a presentation that communicates the students’ experience and its present and anticipated future impact on their development personally, academically, and professionally. The students may select from a variety of mediums (video, annotated powerpoint, paper) to convey their findings.

Where can I find the course syllabus?

You can find the Hawaii course syllabus here and the Tanzania course syllabus here. To transfer course credit to a different university, download the syllabus to share with your advisor.

How much does the course cost?

The course tuition is much less than tuition at most institutions! For undergraduate students, tuition is $975 for New York in-state residents or $1,200 for New York out-of-state residents. The tuition for graduate students varies. You must be registered for a trip to take the course as it’s a hands-on, experiential learning course. To reserve your space, log into your Volunteer Profile, select trip dates with the course and solidify your spot with a deposit.  Remember, the deposit(s) are included in the total cost. The course will add a whole new dimension to your excursion!

I have questions about the course, who do I contact?

Questions about registration, credit transfer, and financial aid:

Hugh Anderson
Senior Study Abroad Advisor at SUNY Cortland
Phone: (607) 753-2209

Questions about the responsible travel and volunteer experience:
GIVE Volunteers
Phone: 206.973.7991

How do I register for the course?

After you’ve been accepted to volunteer, it’s simple! Select your preferred trip dates with the course from your Volunteer Profile and secure your spot on the trip and course with a deposit. The trip deposit is $595 and course deposit is $200 (all deposits are included in the total cost!). Once your spot is secured on a trip and course, we’ll connect you with SUNY to complete your registration on the university side.  

Note that you must be confirmed on a GIVE trip to take the course. If you haven’t applied for the GIVE excursions, click here!

*GIVE’s Academic Course is only offered in certain locations and seasons

“It’s a unique opportunity. I’ve never seen anything like it, in fact, where by design, the students are engaging in their interests at the same time doing good and getting credit for it… all the while in some of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable.”

Ken Cohen, Ph.D FCS/Recreation and Sustainable Tourism.

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