Keene, New Hampshire – In partnership with the Peace Corps, Antioch University New England (AUNE) announced a new program where students may combine Peace Corps service with doctoral studies in AUNE’s Department of Environmental Studies. The program will launch summer of 2015 and is the first doctoral level partnership between Peace Corps and a university that allows students and volunteers to complete advanced graduate work during their Peace Corps service.
“The benefits to choosing this route to pursue a doctoral degree are endless,” said Dr. James Gruber, who spearheaded the program and is the director of AUNE’s PhD Program in Environmental Studies. “In addition to the economic efficiencies and exceptional academic structure the program offers, the opportunity to learn from and about those you are helping instills an incredible sense of pride, selflessness and achievement that traditional educational pathways can’t always provide.”
The program consists of two years of doctoral courses at AUNE’s internationally-recognized Department of Environmental Studies, 27 months in the Peace Corps while students conduct doctoral research, and upon completion of their tour of service return to AUNE to finish writing and defend their dissertation. This doctoral program in environmental studies is based off AUNE’s existing Peace Corps Master’s International program – which is also based on a strategic partnership with the Peace Corps – and was launched in 2014.
The program offers 12 credits tuition-free for the service and research conducted while volunteering in the Peace Corps. Students also receive specialized training and gain access to AUNE’s extensive network of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) with diverse areas of expertise to help them prepare for their next venture. Students may select the country they wish to apply to from among Peace Corps’ more than 60 host countries. Transportation to and from volunteers’ country of service, housing, medical coverage and a stipend are all provided during service. Further, students will receive more than $8,000 from the Peace Corps upon completion of volunteer service as a readjustment allowance. Graduates of this program also receive special noncompetitive eligibility for federal jobs.
The new program reflects best practices outlined in recent research: Global Trends in Support Structures for Community University Research Partnerships. Its researchers found that students and volunteers working within civil society organizations (such as the Peace Corps) can integrate their research with service more seamlessly, and inspire social change and justice more readily. This model of “engaged scholarship” is a tenet of AUNE’s PhD programs, where all students are required to conduct a service project, regardless of whether they are pursuing a degree.
“We are proud to be the first university in the country to approach service and learning in this way,” Gruber said. “Antioch University emphasizes applying all courses of study – regardless of discipline – to impacting positive change and imparting social justice. The new Peace Corps PhD in Environmental Studies leaves students with global perspective, specialized training and invaluable empathy.”
To learn more about AUNE’s programs and innovative approaches to adult education, visit www.antiochne.edu/peace-corps-phd. To learn more about the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorps.gov. Applications for the first entering class of 2015 are due by March 15, 2015.