Paul Gerdes Scholarship

International Center
Markim Hall, Second Floor
651-696-6129 fax

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Academic-Year Hours
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Summer Hours
Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m.-noon

In memory of Paul Gerdes, a Macalester College student who had studied abroad in Brazil, the Gerdes family, in collaboration with Macalester, has established a unique scholarship for Macalester students. The Paul Gerdes Scholarship supports a one-month extension of independent study, immediately following an approved semester abroad, on a topic concerning social justice.

Purpose: To support Macalester students in deepening their learning abroad through a fulfilling independent research endeavor, in pursuing solidarity in issues of social justice, and in advancing scholarship that enriches the local communities and reach of the College.

Typically, one scholarship will be awarded annually. Individual applications will be solicited after the Study Away Review Committee reviews all proposals for the current academic year.

Past Winners

2010-2011 Leigh Bercaw (Madagascar) Project: Integrated Conservation and Food Security in Western Madagascar

2009-2010 Dominika Seblova (South Africa) Project: Poverty Alleviation and Biodiversity Conservation at Ukhahlamba Drankensberg National Park

2007-2008 Federico Segura (Colombia) Project: Impact of U.S. and EU Foreign Policies on Human Rights in Colombia

2005-2006 Meghan Metzger (Hungary & Romania) Project: Reconsidering Nationalism and National Identity

2003-2004 Ricardo Pravia (Brazil) Project: Street Children in Brazil

2002-2003 Kathleen Lazelle (France)

2001-2002 Patrick D'Silva (Egypt) Project: Religious Minorities and Social Justice in Morocco

2000-2001 Anita Girghari (Argentina & Chile)

Selection Criteria


  • Participation in an approved semester of study abroad, including a supported independent study project.
  • Proposal to undertake a one-month extension of the independent study project, expanding upon the project as described your Macalester proposal for study away.
  • The project may be in any of the major areas of liberal arts - social sciences, natural sciences, humanities and the arts - as long is there is a demonstrated link to the overall theme of social justice.
  • The proposed topic for investigation must fit well with the student’s intellectual interests and academic trajectory within a declared major at Macalester College.

Selection criteria:

The Director of the International Center at Macalester, in consultation with the relevant program sponsor and the Study Away Review Committee, will provide guidance in developing an appropriate project proposal. The following criteria will be considered in the selection process:

  • Seriousness of purpose, including: a clear connection to critical issues concerning social justice in the host society and how the additional month will advance your research.
  • Solid pre-departure preparation (including previous course work, independent reading, and relevant foreign language proficiency).
  • Well-designed methodology for the proposed independent study project.
  • Strong academic record as reflected in the cumulative grade point average at Macalester.

Funding Criteria:

The scholarship is intended to cover room, board, on-site advising, and some research expenses for the additional month abroad. The cost of health and accident insurance for the additional month abroad, if not already covered as part of your semester abroad, may be included in the proposed budget. Recipients are responsible for personal expenses; although, financial need may be considered in determining the total amount of the scholarship. Typical awards range from $1,000 to $2,000. All financial arrangements will be coordinated by the Macalester College International Center in collaboration with the Financial Aid Office and the program sponsor.

Interested students may contact the Macalester College International Center for further information.

Application Instructions

Download Application Instructions

1. An essay outlining the nature of your proposed Independent Study Project, with special emphasis on how an additional month of study in your host society will help you to understand issues of social justice and help you to produce a better research or policy paper.

  • In preparing your essay, you are expected to expand upon the topic and methodology outlined in your Macalester proposal for study abroad.
  • This essay is expected to be 1-3 pages in length, not inclusive of budget sheets.
  • The essay should also give a clear indication of any additional pre-departure activities, including independent reading and consultations with Macalester faculty members, that you have completed in order to better prepare you for your chosen area of independent study. If you are able to engage a Macalester faculty member to help guide your study (before departure and/or from a distance when you are abroad), please name the faculty member and outline these arrangements (e.g. E-mail advising; pre-departure guidance on the topic; cross-cultural orientation.)
  • Finally, your essay should include mention of any relevant research experience or methodological training you will have completed by the end of this semester, as well as involvement in community volunteer projects or internships that are relevant to your proposed area of investigation.

2. A preliminary draft budget of additional expenses during the expected 4-week extension of independent study in the host society.

  • This should include estimates for room and board, independent travel, books and materials, and other incidental expenses that will assist you in carrying out your study.
  • The cost of health and accident insurance for the additional month abroad, if not already covered as part of your semester abroad, may be included in your working budget.

Your working budget will be reviewed by the International Center staff to determine the final award amount. Our goal is to cover all of the reasonable additional expenses needed to help ensure a successful project. As a general guideline, previous award winners have received between $1000 and $2000 dollars to support expenses for their additional month of research.

3. One recommendation from a faculty member or work supervisor which addresses your interests in social justice, academic ability & capacity for independent research.

Finally, please note that you may be asked, before selection, to provide further information and to be interviewed by the Study Away Review Committee or others at Macalester staff or faculty. Should you be selected, you will be required, upon your return to campus, to present your independent study project at an on-campus forum, to be in contact with the Gerdes family about the results of your project, and to make your paper available for others to read.