Coverdell Peace Corps Fellowship

Craig Hutton

Returning Peace Corps Volunteers Fellowship in Geography

The MU Geography Department is very pleased to be a participant in the Returning Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) Fellows/USA program. This program provides graduate students who are returned Peace Corps volunteers an opportunity to utilize and build upon their overseas experience. Service learning and civic engagement are an integral component of each RPCV Fellow's graduate degree at MU. Engagement with local communities is active, developed in partnership with those affected, and mutually beneficial to all involved. RPCV Fellows receive a departmental assistantship that carries a tuition waiver, subsidized health insurance, and a competitive annual stipend toward financing their graduate education. Volunteers can apply for the Fellows/USA any time after they complete their Peace Corps service.

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship in the Department of Geography offers advanced research training within a disciplinary perspective that complements the Peace Corps mission. The Master of Arts degree consists of 32 hours of graduate-level coursework coupled with a thesis research project. Coverdell Fellows are supported by a 9-month Third Goal Assistantship, which includes a monthly stipend, full educational tuition waiver, and subsidized health care, renewable for a second year pending satisfactory progress toward degree. The Third Goal Assistantship offers a reduced teaching load allowing for 10 hours a week of stipend-supported service with local community organizations. With built-in internship placement and access to community organizations through the campus Office of Service Learning, Coverdell Fellows in Geography are positioned for success through our Department’s established programs of research, teaching, and service in the geographical sciences. Supported in part by department funding, past Coverdell Fellows in Geography have conducted thesis fieldwork in South Africa, Peru, and Senegal, and have gone on to elite doctoral programs and rewarding careers in public service. The Central Missouri Returned Peace Corps Organization and annual Third Goal Film Festival help newly arrived volunteers make a ready home in Columbia.

Craig Hutton, recent University of Missouri-Columbia Geography MA student and Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador, South America, 1999-2001. Craig and his community partners worked on small scale agricultural and animal husbandry projects promoting integration and use of local resources. Craig also worked with the local elementary school (English and environmental education) and helped to organize a local fish farming association. As the community was a recent settlement in the area, Craig was interested in how community members adapted to their new environment - blending knowledge/skills from their "old" environments with the new. Craig's Master’s research interests included community development, volunteerism, and cultural geography.

Admitted Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are eligible for a two year Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA) position. TA positions typically involve teaching undergraduate lab sections of introductory world geography classes. Beyond the RPCV stipend, TA’s will receive an educational tuition and fee waiver and the monthly stipend associated with an assistantship. The department also has Research Assistant (RA) positions funded through grants and contracts. The RA positions are tied to specific research projects and vary by semester. All RA’s will receive an educational tuition and fee waiver and a monthly stipend.

The department offers a broad range of opportunities within the discipline of Geography, with concentrations in Human Geography, Nature/Society Relationships, The Physical Environment, and Geographic Information Science.

John Hager

RPCV students are especially encouraged to integrate their community service work with their thesis research. Service learning opportunities in the central Missouri area are available through a broad range of local, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations and other organizations.

John Hager, University of Missouri-Columbia Geography MA, 2003 and Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa, 2000-2002. John taught science and math at a rural junior high school for his Peace Corps assignment. He was inspired by the role of women in rural Gambian society, and their traditional lack of educational opportunity. His Masters research examined the cultural barriers traditionally facing girls in obtaining an education, and the benefits to society when formal education became available.

Frequently asked questions about the RPCV Fellows Program at the University of Missouri


For further questions about RPCV Fellows in Geography, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Matt Foulkes.