Kansas Abroad

Kansas sunflower mural

Kansas Abroad

A two-week roadtrip across the state of Kansas to explore the question "What is Kansas' environmental future?"
Location: Kansas
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Academic Disciplines: Environmental Studies
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • A two week road trip that explores the question "What is Kansas’ environmental future?"  Kansas Abroad treats Kansas as if it were a study abroad destination with an environmental theme.
  • Talk with local change-makers, entrepreneurs and VIPs to engage with the unexpected in all regions of Kansas.
  • Explore the unique environmental features of Kansas.
  • Learn about Kansas’ past while contemplating the future.
  • Build skills in interviewing, listening, and developing research questions on the future of Kansas and its contributions to the country and world.

(Kansas Abroad program image taken by Larry Schwarm) 

Kansas Abroad will allow students to explore the state as an Environmental Studies “living laboratory.” This competitive program provides an immersive and hands-on, expansive look at the state’s reliance on environmental resources and the creative and entrepreneurial solutions proposed by Kansans, and it creates a space for students to develop research skills related to preserving our future.

Students will explore Kansas akin to a study abroad experience and similarly develop cultural awareness and new skills through this unique learning opportunity. The point of studying away or any kind of community-based learning is to experience something unfamiliar — a new place with a different culture often including different language, cuisine and norms — that illuminates both the new place and one’s home. Students will gain firsthand experience with experts who explore the diversity, contradictions and contributions of Kansas to the country and the world — and then research and share their observations about Kansas’ future.

With an emphasis on urban and rural relationships, Kansas Abroad offers students a chance to explore and encounter differences within the state and leverage those experiences into knowledge. Students will build skills in interviewing, listening and developing research questions on the future of Kansas and the role of young people in shaping it. Focusing on civic responsibility and collaborative leadership, Kansas Abroad aims to fulfill KU’s mission dedicated to preparing students for lives of learning and the challenges educated citizens will encounter in an increasingly complex and diverse global community.

Kansas Abroad will take place from June 4, 2023 (depart Lawrence) to June 18, 2023 (return to Lawrence).  Participants will travel by SUV from Lawrence to southeast Kansas, then through Wichita and Hutchinson and on to Dodge City and Garden City, north to Scott City and Monument Rocks, and then coming back along I-70 in a wave shape – up to Nicodemus, down to Lindsborg, to Salina and Manhattan and back to Lawrence with stops in between.


Visits along the route may include:

  • Various traditional and organic farms and ranches including cattle, dairy, bison, wheat, cotton and hemp among others;
  • Energy production facilities including oil, gas, biodiesel, wind and solar;
  • NGOs and educational centers focused on rural economic development and/or environmental issues;
  • Geological sites of interest across the state;
  • Museums, artistic sites and commercial vendors specific to Kansas, Kansas history and the environmental themes we are exploring.

Further, in each region we will potentially explore the following:

Southeast Kansas

  • Bauman's Cedar Valley Farm, Garnett
  • Humboldt
  • Mining and reclamation projects
  • Flint Hills ranches
  • Energy production (wind, oil, gas)

South Central Kansas

  • Grain elevators and murals
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Wichita Art Museum
  • JaKo Farm, Hutchinson
  • Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway
  • Hemp and dairy farming

Southwest Kansas

  • Greensburg
  • Cattle production
  • Dust bowl history
  • Kansas’ largest cotton gin

Northwestern Kansas

North Central Kansas

The Kansas Abroad program takes place across the summer and fall academic terms.  Students on the Kansas Abroad program will be required to enroll in the following courses at KU:

Summer 2023

EVRN 498 Kansas Roadtrip (1 credit) 

Kansas Roadtrip (Part 1 of the Kansas Abroad Program) allows students to explore the state as an environmental studies “living laboratory.”  With an emphasis on urban and rural relationships and the story of how soil and water lead to wealth in Kansas, students will explore and encounter differences within the state and leverage those experiences into research questions on the future of Kansas and the role of people in shaping it.  See the "Location" tab for details on the itinerary to be followed during the two-week EVRN 498 course.


Fall 2023

EVRN 499 Kansas Environmental Futures (2 credits)

Kansas Environmental Futures (Part 2 of the Kansas Abroad Program) asks: What will the future of Kansas’ environment look like? To this end, the Fall 2023 course  offers a research-based experience where students select a specific environmental theme to research for the semester. The project concludes with a written document and public presentation on the research topic, as well as as student contributions to a public exhibition of hte Kansas Abroad program.

Selected participants must commit to participating in the entirety of the experience. 

Students will be housed in multi-occupany accommodations throughout the program.  Accommodations may include university dormitories, hotels or bed & breakfasts, yurt or camping facilities, etc.  Breakfast daily and several lunches and dinners will be included throughout the program itinerary.

The Kansas Abroad program is open to all KU Environmental Studies majors who have been a declared-major for at least one year. Prior to the participation in the Kansas Abroad program, students should have completed EVRN 140 & EVRN 142 (or their equivalents).

Paul Stock is a rural and environmental sociologist who has been a professor at KU for over 10 years. With research interests in agriculture, food, and the environment, Kansas offers a unique laboratory.

For more information contact:

Paul Stock, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator

The Environmental Studies Program