Photo by Claire Bice, India Semester.

Course Design

There is no typical day on a Dragons program. In fact, there is no typical Dragons course.

Pre-programmed itineraries are not the focus of our planning; rather, we design our courses to allow for responsive instructor-driven engagement:

The foundation of a Dragons Program: Small groups, 4:1 student-to-instructor ratio, exceptional guides.

Small groups enable us to provide authentic, low-to-the-ground, high quality learning adventures. A 4:1 student-to-instructor ratio ensures that each student receives individual support and appropriate challenges. By staffing courses with three mature guides who possess deep knowledge of place, we are able to execute programs that are agile, responsive and instructor-driven.

We empower our instructors to drive the course design process.

We design each course from the ground up. Each Instructor Team crafts a unique itinerary based on their specific skill sets, a robust network of in-country resources, and the interests of the incoming student group. This process ensures that no two Dragons courses are the same. Regional Program Directors support each Instructor Team throughout the course-planning process, vetting proposed itineraries with an eye for Risk Management and curriculum development.

We define course parameters and then encourage students to have boundless experiences.

Every course itinerary takes students through a progression of skill-building, practicing and expedition. Each phase offers students the opportunity to build new skills and take increasing ownership over their in-country experience. We’ve refined this intentional course progression over the past 25 years, and we believe that this framework affords students a simultaneously challenging and empowered learning experience.

Experiences are at their best when instructors are most inspired.

The secret ingredient to our course design process is the spaciousness given to our Instructor Teams to be creative, build on past experiences, and empower their students to take ownership of the course. We have an 85% staff retention rate, and we believe this is largely due to the fact that Dragons’ instructors are valued and trusted partners in the course design process.

9 Program Components frame every student program.

We structure each course around nine program components to ensure that every program yields a comprehensive exploration of place. This framework helps us deliver a consistent Dragons experience, even as course itineraries change year to year.

Learn About Program Components