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Exploring the World's Classroom

Out in the Mojave Desert, on an unexpectedly cool day, a small group of Cal State Fullerton students study the effects of climate change in a real-world setting. At the California State University’s Desert Studies Center, they conduct research under the direction of Darren Sandquist, professor of biological science, and Jeffrey Knott, professor of geological sciences. They spend time in the desert, courtesy of the President’s Strategic Fund, which provides scholarship funding for study abroad and study away courses.

Elsewhere, a group of faculty-led students explores crime and justice at the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico and Chula Vista. Another cohort studies the link between history and Mexican muralism in Guanajuato, Mexico. Yet another group visits Orange County’s Little Saigon community, home to the largest Vietnamese-American population, to learn more about this group’s contributions to society.

From San Diego to Germany to Vietnam, students from a wide range of majors receive opportunities they may never have dreamed possible. The President’s Strategic Fund supports initiatives that offer students access to high-impact practices, and is geared to those who demonstrate a financial need and have not yet participated in a study abroad or study away experience.

It places particular emphasis in supporting first-generation students or those with limited means. The fund is expected to contribute to an increase in the already above-average participation of Cal State Fullerton students in these types of experiences.

“We believe in the transformational power of high-impact practices and want to ensure that our diverse students have the opportunity to learn in the world’s classroom — to witness, firsthand, the social and cultural landscapes around us,” said Mary Ann Villarreal, Cal State Fullerton’s assistant vice president of strategic initiatives.

The President’s Strategic Fund directly supports the University’s strategic plan, which calls for an increase in high-impact practices, including study abroad and to advance global perspectives and support engagement, retention and graduation goals.

To contribute to the President’s Strategic Fund, contact Todd Frandsen, associate vice president for development, at 657-278-8569 or