Department of History and Geography

Heidi Glaesel Frontani Memorial Study Abroad Contest

Heidi Glaesel Frontani (1965-2016)
Heidi Glaesel Frontani, professor of geography, onetime chair of the Department of History and Geography, pioneering leader of the Ghana Periclean cohort, gifted scholar, and advocate for the peoples of Africa died too young in February 2016. She lived fully and left an amazing legacy that the Department of History and Geography hopes to continue, in part through the Heidi Glaesel Frontani Memorial Study Abroad Essay Contest. 


As a geographer, Dr. Frontani was an enthusiastic and informed world traveler.  She developed a lifelong love affair with Africa in 1987 when she participated in the Harvard University Institute for International Development’s “World Teach” program, through which she spent 18 months as a high-school teacher in rural Kenya.  She would return again and again, first to fisheries in Tanzania and Kenya as a part of her dissertation research on natural resource management, and later across the continent to West Africa.  She not only published and presented research on the role of the Peace Corps in Ghana, but--in a beautiful example of engaged teaching and learning--led Elon University's Periclean Scholars to serve the people of two rural Ghanaian communities, Kpoeta and Sokode-Etoe.  The people and places of Africa remained an animating passion for Dr. Frontani throughout her life, and she maintained for years a blog documenting development success stories from across the continent. 


Dr. Frontani’s intellectual curiosity and sense of adventure led her beyond Africa on many occasions.  She traveled frequently to China, and even co-led Elon students on a study abroad course to that country in the month before she passed away.  She believed strongly in global education and took great joy in being on the ground with her students.  Indeed, while Dr. Frontani excelled as a scholar and as a leader at Elon and in her field (see, for instance, eulogies from Elon and from the Association of American Geographers), it is this intellectual curiosity, sense of adventure, and recognition of the importance of place that our department intends to celebrate with this award. 


The Heidi Glaesel Frontani Memorial Study Abroad Essay Contest will provide one student per year with $1,000 to help defray the cost of studying abroad.   Students from any discipline are welcome to apply, though special consideration will be to students from Heidi’s home discipline of geography.  Dr. Frontani personally inaugurated the contest as the “Geography Study Abroad Essay Contest” many years ago, favoring geographers but keeping the award open to anyone passionate about the study of place.  Students should apply in the spring of the preceding year for study travel in the following summer, fall, winter or spring.  Details of the application, which requires an essay, may be found here.