Communicating Sustainability in Latvia

This course is proposed to be offered as an IP and will be classified as a “Media elective” within the CMR curriculum. 

The course guides explorations about the ways communication engaged in understanding nature and its people has regional and global consequences.  Through focus on narratives about sustainability, policy debates about responsibility, and environmental discourses about relations between people and nature, students will develop a deeper understanding of commonalities and differences related to international locales (geographical, economic, political, or social).  

Students will need to have web-accessing personal electronic devices (to read and write assignments), wifi will be available at UMM, on the planes and in the university hostel and classroom sites in Latvia.  UMM and U of M students in CMR, Education, Political Science, History, GWSS, Latvian/ Eastern European Studies, English and/or Philosophy (and those interested in careers in writing) will be interested in the ideas that the course investigates.  Another group that may be particularly interested are members of the American Latvian Association .  They have a significant presence in Minnesota, and run diaspora programs for the descendants of Latvian immigrants through the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran church.

The Baltic International Summer School (BISS) Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences


Valmeria, Latvia:  Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences

Participants will be registered as an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Morris and enrolled in a course that will show on an official transcript from the University of Minnesota Morris.

International travel is, by its very nature, unpredictable. We must therefore reserve the right to change this itinerary, without advance notice, to meet with local conditions at the time of travel. We appreciate your understanding.

Pre-departure orientation in Morris—two days, in UMM residence halls/meals—topics include: 

  • “Orientation”: Travelling as a group, rules of conduct, academic expectations, safety, currency, etc
  • an Introduction to Latvian History, Language traditions and contemporary tensions, Ethnic issues in Latvia, Latvian Media practices and industries, Understanding Latvian life within the Soviet era, in NATO, and in the EU.
  • Completion of the first assignment

Leave MPLS over the weekend, as flights can be arranged


  • Arrive Riga airport, take charter bus to Valmiera -stay in Valmiera until June 30, finish with a 2 days/ 1 night in Riga, and leave for the US approx.. July 2 or 3
  • Post-experience July 4-7:  Students independently write the final paper/ reflection, submit it for course completion
  • Housing and meals:  As a student you will have to share a room with one more student, there is one bathroom with shower and toilet per two rooms/4 people.  You can get pictures of the place from this link:
  • Cafeteria lunches, a welcome dinner and a farewell dinner will (probably) be arranged for the group—on other days students will be able to cook at the residence, or go out to eat.

Daily schedule:

Each day the UMM students will be expected to attend the BISS institute classes, as scheduled 10am-1:00 pm and 2:00-6:00 and attend the cultural tours.  UMM students are further expected to do the readings assigned by the BISS and additional readings and writing assignments designed by Professor Burke.  UMM students will also need to attend the guest/ international media professional lectures and participate in discussions.

UMM students will have access to all of the computer labs and media production equipment supplied by Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences.  Professor Burke will accompany the students, guide and grade the UMM student projects.  She will also provide workshops, lectures and evening discussions to UMM students and members of the institute.

Anticipated logistical constraints:  The university housing can accommodate 15-18 UMM students.  The charter bus and host university is not fully accessible for wheelchairs, lectures will be delivered orally (in English), and video production assignments will assume students have no or very limited visual accommodation needs.  There is a hospital in Valmiera if we have medical needs, but they have limited English, mental-health services.

We assume interested participants have the ability to walk for more than a mile over terrain that is sometimes rough, with varying elevations. A good sense of balance and athletic shoes or hiking boots are essential, and walking poles may be desirable. 



Financial Details/Compensation/Aid

Flights are not included in the program fee. We will put together a coordinated group flight, but participants are not required to travel with the group.  The Academic Center for Enrichment will assist all participants as needed with flight arrangements.

The deposit is non-refundable.

Cancellation Policy


  • $500 deposit in March 2023.
  • Balance of program fee will be due May 25, 2023.

Financial Aid Eligibility

Non-University of Minnesota students admitted for study abroad are not eligible for any financial aid from the University of Minnesota.

Standard inclusions

Unless specified otherwise in the description of the program, program charges includes dormitory lodging during the program; meals specified on the itinerary; site visits; entrance fees; guides; any internal train, bus, or air travel; emergency medical-evacuation insurance on international trips; all taxes and gratuities; management services; and the full educational program led by Professor James Cotter.

Standard exclusions

Unless specified otherwise in the description of the program, program charges do not include airfare; visa and passport fees; luggage, cancellation, and accident insurance; meals and beverages not specified in the itinerary; and personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, faxes, and e-mail service.

Study Abroad