International and Off-Campus Programs

Travel and study abroad are exciting, broadening, challenging, and often life-changing. Donna and her husband, Steve, have gotten to lead a number of such programs including St. Olaf’s Global Semester, Donna’s January-term course “Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado”, a sabbatical at DIS in Copenhagen, a January-term study tour with the St. Olaf Band in New Zealand and Australia, and two St. Olaf Alumni and Family Travel programs: the Ultimate Tanzania Safari and Italy and Slovenia: Food, Wine, and Walking.

Global Semester

Steve at the Memorial Temple of Hatshepsut (built c. 1479 BC) in Luxor, Egypt near Valley of the Kings

In 2006-2007, Donna McMillan led St. Olaf College’s Global Semester program.  Global Semester is a five-month long study-abroad program, during which Donna and her husband, Steve Bayne, and 28 great St. Olaf students traveled as a group to seven different countries: Switzerland, Greece, Egypt, India, Thailand, Hong Kong & mainland China, and South Korea.  Throughout these five months they all lived together, traveled and went on tours together, and attended courses together. The group took five courses, including one psychology course, Culture and the Self, which Donna taught.  The Global Semester experience is intense and exciting. Inevitably during the five months there were plenty of physical, mental, and emotional challenges, such as fascinating but exhausting six-hour tours in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings (that began at 6:30AM with temperatures over 100 degrees Farenheit), flights at 3:00AM, and the ever-present challenge of getting to know different cultures, people, and languages. The challenges are worth it, though, as Global Semester – and study abroad in general – is a unique and wonderful learning opportunity.


Environmental Psychology at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

This is an off-campus January-term course created and led by Donna McMillan. This course investigates — academically and experientially — the human relationship with the natural world, examining ways in which the natural environment is important psychologically to human beings. Integrating aspects of theoretical and empirical psychology, environmental studies, and literature, the course explores meanings, values, and questions such as: How are we affected by nature? What does nature mean to people?  What affects people’s attitudes and behaviors toward the environment?  How do we respond to environmental challenges?  How does the field of psychology address the natural world?  The course focuses on a) our subjective experience of nature, b) empirical research about people’s relationships with the natural world, c) cultural factors, and d) nature-related systems and institutions, particularly the National Park System.

For the month of January, the group lives at the YMCA of the Rockies – Estes Park, a beautiful 860-acre campus at an elevation of 8010 feet, surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park. We have class together daily during the week, and literally every day we explore and come to know the beauty that is the Colorado Rockies.

DIS Copenhagen: Study Abroad in Scandinavia

During a sabbatical, Donna McMillan was a visiting professor at DIS Copenhagen (“Study Abroad in Scandinavia”). She fell in love with Copenhagen while teaching a semester-long course in Positive Psychology that included two course-integrated study tours to western Denmark and to Budapest, Hungary. Her sabbatical there included additional travel in Europe, matching well DIS’s motto, “Scandinavia as your home, Europe as your classroom.”

Human and Environmental Flourishing, New Zealand and Australia

With Professor Paul Jackson, Professor Donna McMillan team-taught the interdisciplinary “Human and Environmental Flourishing” course for the St. Olaf Band students.  This January-term course included a two-week study tour in New Zealand and Australia while the Band performed to delighted audiences there.

Ultimate Tanzania SafariSt. Olaf Alumni and Family Travel Program

In February – March 2020, Donna McMillan and her husband, Steve Bayne, led an awe-inspiring St. Olaf Alumni and Family Travel program to Tanzania – arriving back in the U.S. just days before the pandemic effectively shut down air travel. Donna and Steve’s previous high expectations for experiencing wildlife in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater were no match for the reality — where the proximity, abundance, variety, and beauty of wildlife were more spectacular than imagined. The program also explored fascinating local culture, particularly that of the Massai people.

Italy & Slovenia: Food, Wine, and Walking – St. Olaf Alumni and Family Travel Program

In 2023, Donna McMillan and her husband, Steve Bayne, led this St. Olaf Alumni and Family Travel program to northeastern Italy and neighboring Slovenia.  The program began in the southern Dolomite Mountains and then moved east to Slovenia including its delightful capital, Ljubljana, and beautiful Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj.