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Duty of Care: Faculty Perception of Navigating Crisis Management & Student Conflict in Short-Term Study Abroad

Lisa McAdam Donegan, Johnson & Wales University


Study abroad faculty leaders may play an integral role in building group cohesion, managing conflict, managing crises, and minimizing risk on programs. The role of the faculty leader, according to Paparella (2018), warrants special attention due to the faculty’s close connection to students and partners, the role they may play as primary conflict and risk manager while abroad, and due to increased scrutiny of ramifications of institutional mismanagement of duty of care (Forum, 2020). Although research exists on faculty-led study abroad programs, such as studies conducted by Rasch (2001), Watts (2015), and Paparella (2018), there is limited research on the role of faculty leading short-term study abroad programs and their management of conflict and risk. This qualitative descriptive interpretive study explored: How do faculty describe their management of crises and conflict among participants while directing short-term study abroad programs? Through interviews, participant reflection, and supplemental document analysis, this study explored the perspectives of faculty (N =11) who led a short-term study abroad program prior to April 2020 at private or public universities and colleges in the northeastern United States. The researcher developed an understanding of the faculty stakeholder perspective using Rubin and Rubin’s (2005) analysis, from triangulating findings of transcription and coding of interviews, reflection, and (N = 22) supplemental documents. Four themes emerged from data analysis: that training, preparation, and design matters; that stakeholder collaboration and receptive communication are critical to faculty leaders in Study Abroad; that cultural competence minimizes conflict and fosters collegial group dynamics; and finally, that faculty understanding of duty of care, while fluctuating, is evidenced through the intentional balancing of participant transformational learning abroad with the management of risk. Risk and crisis management is a primary concern for institutions. By studying how faculty leaders on short-term study abroad programs managed conflict and potential risk, other faculty, institutions, partners, and administrators may learn best practices for mitigating conflict, and developing pre-departure preparation and training material that supports faculty and students on all experiences abroad. This study attempted to fill the gap in the literature focused on student conflict and crisis management in short-term faculty-led study abroad.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational administration

Recommended Citation

Donegan, Lisa McAdam, "Duty of Care: Faculty Perception of Navigating Crisis Management & Student Conflict in Short-Term Study Abroad" (2021). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI29061673.