Safety and Security for Global Study Students
As students prepare to leave, you may wonder whether recent world events may preclude participation in global study experiences. While we can never guarantee students' safety even under the best and most peaceful circumstances, we believe that studying globally is a good choice for Gettysburg students; more 300,000 students from U.S. colleges and universities take part in global study programs each year.
Gettysburg College provides participants with safety guidelines that they should heed when they are abroad. Problems, while rare, can be especially complicated to handle abroad because students' usual support networks are unavailable to them, so our priority is making sure that they have access to surrogate support networks while abroad.
Most global study participants choose programs which are affiliated with Gettysburg. We work with those programs in part because of their adherence to the safety guidelines provided by NAFSA, The Association of International Educators. In accordance with these guidelines, programs affiliated with Gettysburg conduct periodic assessments of health and safety conditions for the program, and develop and maintain emergency preparedness processes and a crisis response plan. Our partners also provide health and safety information for prospective participants so that the students and their families can make informed decisions concerning preparation, participation, and behavior while on the program.
Another excellent source of information is the United States Department of State (DOS). All students have been encouraged to access this information for their program country and also for any countries to which they plan to travel during their time abroad. This site describes the various types of announcements and updates that the Department of State issues. There is always a “Worldwide Caution” in effect to remind U.S. citizens abroad to be vigilant about safety on their own behalf.
Throughout the semester, our students can receive supplementary information from their local contacts including program directors, university representatives, local police and the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their host country. The best information about conditions within a country comes from informed on-site contacts. Here is a link to Embassies worldwide.
Cautions, Alerts, and Advisories
The safety of Gettysburg students is our highest priority. Decisions to cancel programs, delay program start dates, or modify program models are based on a balance of global health news, public health and safety advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), International SOS (ISOS), and input from our program providers/host universities and Embassies around the world.
Messages from U.S. Embassies and Consulates
Embassies and Consulates issues three types of “Messages” on a semi-regular basis. General “Messages” concern routine topics and information that will be useful for long term residents abroad, “Security Messages” provide information about general safety and security, and “Emergency Messages” warn of possible or likely imminent danger.
US State Department Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Advisories
The State Department has a Worldwide Caution in place at all times to alert travelers about continuing dangers all over the world.
Travel Alerts describe specific temporary events or periods of times that may cause a heightened safety and security situation in a specific location. These may include election cycles, major sporting events, or possible weather related concerns such as seasonal flooding or a typhoon season.
The U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Advisory for each country of the world. Travel Advisories apply up to four standard levels of advice, describe the risks, and provide clear actions U.S. citizens should take to help ensure their safety. The four levels of travel advisories are 1 - Exercise Normal Safety Precautions, 2 - Exercise Increased Caution, 3 - Reconsider Travel, and 4 - Do Not Travel.
These advisories can be for a variety of reasons and it is important to read the entire Travel Advisories to understand the risks in a country regardless of the level. Most countries are issued advisories at the 1 and 2 levels.
Participation in Countries with Elevated Risks
If a student wishes to apply to or continue to participate in a program with elevated risks as determined by Gettysburg College, the student and their family will be required to sign an Acknowledgement of Risks, which may include program suspension or cancellation.