A once-in-a-lifetime $9,500 grant to spend the summer travelling the world, researching a topic of your choice.

Congratulations to 2020 winner Mandy Davis! Mandy is a Weinberg student majoring in science in human culture and psychology, and her project is called “The Gender Equality Paradox: A Counterintuitive Global Trend of Women in Tech.”  While she wasn’t able to take the trip, we are hopeful she will be able to go next summer!

COVID UPDATE: We will be selecting a new winner for 2020-21.  While it is impossible to know whether international travel will be possible next year, we will go through the process of reviewing applications and selecting a winner.  Whereas in previous years a proposal appendix would be expected to contain detailed contacts with people/organizations in each of the countries proposed to visit, this year applicants will simply need to identify the groups/people with whom they would hope to meet within the proposal.  Then, if travel is approved for next summer, the selected student would work with the Circumnavigator’s Club Foundation and the Office of Undergraduate Research to fully flesh out the project and contacts.  Given this new approach to the application, we strongly recommend that you reach out to Peter Civetta for advising support.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020 for Summer 2021 travel-study.

Final interviews will be held in early January (likely via Zoom).


  • Applicants must be full-time Northwestern juniors who will be returning to campus next year.  NU students with senior standing may apply only if they will be returning to Northwestern as full-time undergraduates for the entire academic year following the summer circumnavigation.
  • Students who will be studying abroad or otherwise away from campus during the winter/spring before the trip or during the academic year following the trip are not eligible.
  • Applicants must be available for an interview. Exact date to be determined.
  • Students in any discipline may apply.  However, the national office of the Circumnavigators Club Foundation has requested no proposals in the following areas: 1) global environmental and conservation issues, 2) microfinance and microcredit, and 3) alternative energy and rural electrification.





What It Is

One winner is chosen each year. The grant recipient travels:

  • for at least ten continuous weeks
  • to at least five different countries (excluding the U.S. and Canada)
  • on at least three different continents (excluding North America)

Study whatever you want as long as it fits into a global context!  You will also want to consider the ethical implications of your project, so please review these Principles of Ethical Research.

The winner is required to keep a blog throughout the duration of the trip, posting at least twice a week.

Requirements for international projects apply.

This grant is jointly funded by Northwestern University and the Chicago Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club. Visit the Chicago Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club and the Circumnavigators Club Foundation to learn more about the organization and its support of around-the-world travel-study projects.

Post-trip Requirements

  • The grant recipient is required to submit a 50-page (minimum) research paper to the Circumnavigators Club Chicago Chapter and Foundation.
  • A draft analytical outline of the research paper is due to the Chapter’s Foundation Coordinator within 30 days of the end of the trip.  The final paper must be submitted no later than 90 days following the end of the trip.
  • Within 60 days, a summary of all expenses, such as travel, food, lodging, extras must be sent to New York headquarters.
  • The winner will speak to at least two Circumnavigators Club banquets during the nine months following the trip.
  • The grant recipient will be expected to help advise applicants for the following year’s competition, including speaking at the Fall info session in October, and to help mentor the following year’s winner by passing on tips and suggestions.
  • After completion of the requirements, the grant recipient is expected to complete an application and join the Circumnavigators Club.


The winner travels during the summer between junior and senior year.


Read international projects for important travel restrictions.

Faculty Role

Discussing your ideas with faculty is key to developing a meaningful and feasible global project.  The unique travel requirements of the grant (to a minimum of five countries and three continents) pose challenges distinct from those of traditional, more narrowly focused research projects.

Faculty serve primarily as recommenders, rather than project supervisors.

Applications require endorsements from two faculty recommenders (aka sponsors).

Outside faculty may be used as recommenders; graduate students and post-docs are not eligible, unless they are added as a supplemental third endorsement. If a recommender falls into one of these categories, contact the Circumnavigator Coordinator prior to the application deadline for details.  At least one of your faculty sponsors must be a Northwestern faculty member.

Request endorsements well before the deadline.

Ask your recommenders to review Info for Faculty and provide them with a draft of your proposal and resume well in advance to give them time to write their endorsements.

Endorsements are due within 48 hours after the student deadline.

Unendorsed applications will not be considered.

Make sure faculty see the Info for Faculty page to show them how to access our system and the endorsement questions asked.


  • Faculty and the Library

Discuss your ideas with faculty members who may be able offer insights on what you want to do. Faculty also can help you assess and refine the proposal.

Given the scope of a Circumnavigator project, it is a good idea to ask a number of faculty members for input on your ideas.  You can find faculty with interests related to yours by searching the Northwestern Scholars database. You should also take full advantage of library resources.

  • Annual Information Session

Last year’s winner will speak about her/his experience, and members of the Circumnavigators Club Chicago Chapter will be present to answer questions.  In addition, Northwestern representatives will be present to go over the application process and to answer questions.


You may seek feedback from an advisor in the Office of Undergraduate Research once you have written a draft proposal.

While a faculty advisor can best apply his or her expertise to the intellectual and methodological foundations of the project, the Office of Undergraduate Research can offer useful writing assistance in shaping the proposal for readers from both the Northwestern Review Committee and the Circumnavigators Club.

Selection Process

  • Three Finalists are Chosen

A Northwestern Review Committee evaluates applications and selects three finalists before winter break to be interviewed by the Chicago Circumnavigators Club Selection Committee.

  • Interview Required

Finalists must be available for an interview with members of the Circumnavigators Club in early January. No alternate day interviews will be permitted.

The Circumnavigators Club will choose the grant winner and notify all three finalists, the University, and the International Foundation in New York of its decision.

  • What Are They Looking For?

Both Northwestern and the Circumnavigators Club are looking for interesting, pertinent, and globally-based topics, undertaken by persons who can easily think on their feet in any situation they might encounter abroad.

Final selection will further be based on a number of factors, including: (a) merit of the subject to be studied, (b) student’s academic record, (c) poise, maturity and communication skills, and (d) inherent discipline and enthusiasm of the candidates.

Group Projects

No group submissions are allowed; the grant is only for a single individual. The travel-study trip must be undertaken by the grant recipient alone, unaccompanied by friends, significant others, relatives, a research partner or partners, or larger group of associates.


Do I have to be on campus both winter and spring quarters of junior year to be eligible?

Yes. The winner meets regularly with the Circumnavigators Club in the winter and spring to work out the logistics of the trip, something which they feel is not feasible from long distance.

Do I have to be on campus all of senior year, too?

Yes. The responsibilities of the Circumnavigators Grant winner include being available to advise potential applicants in the fall, serving as a mentor to the next winner in winter and spring, and attending Circumnavigators Club events during the academic year after the trip.

Tell me about past winners.

To find out about award recipients and their projects (blogs and photos!), see the Circumnavigators Club Chicago Chapter Foundation Scholars page.

Visit the Circumnavigators Club Foundation national office website for a list of all previous Foundation Scholars and projects sponsored nationally.

See also “Around the World for 40 Years: Reflections by the Circumnavigators Club Foundation Scholars”

How will I plan the actual trip?

Representatives of the Chicago Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club will work closely with the winner to develop the final itinerary, ensuring that the trip is feasible and meets all requirements. Their preparatory work will also include activating contacts in countries prior to the circumnavigation to ensure that the travel and research project will proceed smoothly. They will also be available to help you during the trip. You will also work with the NU Circumnavigators Coordinator to set up a blog for your trip and the Chicago Circumnavigators webmaster to establish dedicated pages for your circumnavigation.

What if I don’t win?

While only one Northwestern student wins the Circumnavigators Grant each year, there are many other options for using the ideas and proposal you’ve developed.  With some modifications, most Circumnavigators applications make excellent Summer URG proposals, and the core ideas can serve as the basis for other grants and fellowships.

What are my options for publishing, presenting, or building on my findings from the trip?

One of the benefits of the Circumnavigators Grant is the opportunity to present your research to diverse audiences.  In addition to submitting your research paper to the Circumnavigators Club Foundation, you will speak about your experiences at least two Circumnavigators Club banquets during the nine months following the trip.

Many Circumnavigators Grant winners go on to apply for prestigious fellowships, such as Fulbright, Rhodes or Luces, and/or PhD scholarship programs. Contact Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships to find out more about these opportunities.