University Honors

Presidential Global Scholars

PGS 2016: Being Local in a Global World

January 15, 2016 - May 4, 2016

Developing Global Insights Through Local Experiences In The Presidential Global Scholars Program


The Presidential Global Scholars program is sponsored by University Honors, the Office of the University President, and Outreach and International Affairs. It exists to provide Virginia Tech honors students with the opportunity to discover their niches in an interconnected society and to empower them to contribute positively to our transforming world.

PGS is designed as a collaborative living-learning community in which ambitious Honors students and award-winning professors work in tandem with the resources and opportunities in Europe and beyond to create an environment that allows the students to better understand the world and what they might accomplish in it.

Castle in Belizona
Photo by Kim Carlson

Our theme for 2016 is Being Local in a Global World - While we live in an interdependent world, some people report negative consequences to globalization and have focused their attention on enhancing and sustaining local resources. Movements related to slow food and slow cities, sustainability, and preserving cultural diversity have become widespread in Europe.

Our theme for the spring 2016 semester abroad will explore issues of globalization and how local efforts may or may not be making a difference in the world.

Spring 2016 Poster

Join us and…

Learn how to be a global citizen

Modules are hands-on learning experiences taught by award-winning professors from across the Virginia Tech campus. 

Photo by Craig Wainner

Topics covered during the semester include Italian Language and Cultures; Global Affairs; Science and the Global World; and Discourse and Global Society.

Experience different cultures

Photo by Kim Carlson

Presidential Global Scholars is not your everyday campus course.  It is an immersive cultural experience.

Live the European experience!

Live in the elegant Villa Maderni and marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the Swiss Alps, all while discovering the influence of volcanoes in southern Italy, enjoying a boat tour in Lugano, exploring the arts in Florence, or savoring French, Italian, or German foods in the local regions.

Photo by Craig Wainner

Earn course credit

This is an academic program worth 18 credits (15 Honors credits), with possible credit in CLE areas 2, 3, and 7.

Because we are living in a small town in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, students are asked to take at least one semester of Italian studies before spring 2016. This will be offered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Virginia Tech. The 3 credit Italian course you will take while at the Steger Center will begin at a second semester, at least.

Program Information


Our program is blessed to have affiliations with many award-winning faculty from across the university. The 2016 faculty have not been selected yet; they will be similar to professors from past semesters:

Professors who have participated in the past include:

Photo by Kim Carlson

Benefits of Study Abroad

Honors students from all majors will benefit from this program.  During this experience, students will be challenged to listen, speak, and write, with great vigor and intensity, so that they return to Virginia Tech with a renewed and enlarged sense of what they want to do with their lives.

Studying abroad allows students to:

  • Invest in their future
  • Gain global and cross-cultural competencies
  • Cultivate personal, professional, and intellectual development
  • Enhance awareness of self and one's own culture
  • Develop self-reliance and problem-solving skills
  • Become more confident
  • Improve language and cross-cultural interpersonal skills

For the experience of a lifetime

The details of our 2016 schedule is still under construction; however here is a schedule for our spring 2014 semester to give you a sense of what we do during the semester.

Swiss Map

All majors welcome!

Students from all majors will benefit from the program.  Presidential Global Scholars will better prepare students for their academic and professional careers by enhancing their ability to relate to other cultures and customs, as well as give students a frame of reference of Europe and the global world.  There are no prerequisites for this program.

Program Costs / Funding

Villa MaderniWe do not want any student to pass up this exciting study abroad opportunity because of financial reasons. Several scholarships and forms of financial aid may be available to help defer some of the program costs.

  • Student will need additional spending money.
  • University Honors Presidential Global Scholars grants and Pamplin Leaders scholarships will be available upon application. The 2016 scholarship and interview process will be part of the general PGS application process.
  • An allocation of student financial aid is set aside for Steger Center programs.  Check with the Education Abroad Office and the University Scholarships and Financial Aid Office for more information.
  • Education Abroad also has information regarding internal VT scholarships.
  • Be sure to check out external scholarships and funding also, such as the Gilman Scholarship Program.

Apply for the Program


If you are interested in joining the Presidential Global Scholars 2016 program, please complete our online application on the Education Abroad website. If you have any specific questions regarding PGS, please contact Patrick Tunno.

Other Relevant Information

Passport / Visa

As soon as you find out that you are accepted into the program, you will need to apply for a passport, if you do not already have one.

You will also submit a student visa application in fall 2015. We will submit the student visa application as a group mailing.

Fall 2015 PGS Italian Section

In Fall 2015, the 12:20 section of Italian 1105 will be taught by PGS Coordinator, Patrick Tunno. While we strongly encourage PGS students to enroll in this section of Italian, you are welcome to take any section of Italian 1105 that fits your schedule. 

Relevant News / Articles

Program allows for immersive European experience for University Honors students - VT News (July 2015)

Presidential Global Scholars reflect on the impact of education abroad learning experience - VT News (July 2013)

Photos: 2013 Presidential Global Scholars - VT News (July 2013)

Presidential Global Scholars reflect on first half of education abroad learning experience - VT News (April 2013)

Presidential Global Scholars 2012 - Outreach and Iinternational Affairs (Spring 2012)

University Honors students prepare for the trip of a lifetime - VT News (Dec. 2012)

Univ. Honors Students Encourage Others to Apply for next PGS - VT News (July 2012)

Students to Embark on New Study Abroad Trip - Collegiate Times (Sept. 2011)

Articles Featuring PGS Alumni

Study Abroad provides new perspective for undergraduate student Anusha Rizvi - VT News (Dec. 2013)

Three University Honors students launch a browser extension that allows online consumers to fight forced labor with education purchases - VT News (Nov. 2013)

Students' Anti-Trafficking Effort Wins National Contest - Virginia Tech Spotlight (Nov. 2013)

Virginia Tech sends first Presidential Fellow to Washington - Innovations (July 2013)

Students will use summer break to work on winning technological concepts that help deter human trafficking worldwide - VT News (May 2013)

Wildlife Science Student Interviews Former Sambian Poachers - Virginia Tech Spotlight (May 2013)

Undergraduate student represents university as its first Presidential Fellow - VT News (April 2013)

Relevant Websites

Office of the Virginia Tech President

VT Office of International Research, Education and Development

Virginia Tech Education Abroad

Center for European Studies and Architecture

Center for Innovation and Learning

Photo by Kim Carlson


Rolling Admissions:

Applications for PGS 2016 are due March 1, 2015.



Passport Apps Due:

As soon as you are accepted to the program

Visa Apps Due:

Fall 2015, exact date TBD

Pre-Course Meetings:

  • All participants will enroll in a 1-credit pre-travel colloquia in Fall 2015. Exact dates TBD