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  About Us Biography of Clay Hubbs, Ph.D.

Biography of Clay Hubbs, Ph.D.

Founding Editor and Publisher, Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc.

Clay Hubbs in Italy
Clay taking it slow, as always, in Italy—literally his home away from home.

Dr. Clay Allen Hubbs (1936-2007), was a journalist, professor, and International Studies advisor (Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, 1971-1998), who founded Transitions Abroad magazine in 1977 to promote immersion travel—real interaction with other cultures—rather than mass tourism. Transitions Abroad Publishing, and its founding editor Clay Hubbs, were to become the foremost authorities on educational and "alternative" travel, and a pioneering advocate for responsible travel. In Clay's vision, there are no abstract absolutes in travel; rather, there is the attempt to be as sensitive and empathetic a guest in host countries and communities as possible.

Clay Hubbs in Paris
Studying the menu at a restaurant in Paris on this 65th birthday.

Hubbs’ numerous academic degrees include a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Washington, and an MA in Journalism from the University of Missouri.

Clay's career seamlessly combined his love of travel with his knowledge of literature and journalism. Clay worked as a journalist and studied literature in Europe, traveled on a long-term basis through Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in the early 1960s with his wife and children. He returned to the U.S. in 1971 to accept a faculty position in Modern European Literature at Hampshire College, where he combined teaching with advising students on overseas study. Clay and his wife, Dr. Joanna Hubbs—a retired professor of Russian cultural history and literature at Hampshire College and now owner and senior editor of Transitions Abroad—continued to travel to Europe and elsewhere each summer, and on extended sabbaticals, throughout their years at Hampshire College.

Clay Hubbs with family 1964
With his family in 1964 after returning from years of adventures in
England, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Clay and Joanna's many recent journeys abroad had spanned the globe from Ecuador to Italy to Ethiopia, where they wrote articles relating their discoveries. Most summers since 1980 were spent, as much as possible, in a restored 12th century watchtower in Tuscany built upon a foundation of Etruscan walls. Following his example as a fearless, endlessly curious, pleasure-seeking yet deeply respectful traveler, his wife, children, and three grandchildren—with whom he had generously shared so many adventures overseas—are determined to carry on his legacy.

In 1977, Hubbs founded Transitions Abroad—the magazine’s first purpose was to inform students and teachers about the low-cost opportunities for travel and living abroad. The magazine was quickly discovered by large numbers of people who were neither students nor teachers, but wanted to learn about ways to travel abroad independently and cheaply—and to meet the locals, not just other tourists. Transitions Abroad continues to provide readers with the much-coveted details on the ethical alternatives to mass tourism while advocating proper respect for host communities. Clay was among the first to emphasize the type of responsible travel and ecotourism which now motivates so many conscientious travelers. In recent years the magazine and website have also been increasing emphasis on working, living, and volunteering abroad in order to respond to a growing interest in the resources, and programs which enable a transition to life-changing overseas jobs which span the spectrum from volunteer service and internships to student work to freelancing to international business careers.

Clay was awarded two of NAFSA's (Association of International Educators) highest awards, the Homer Higbee award and the Education Abroad Leadership Award, for his originality and steadfast work since the founding of Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc.

Clay Hubbs edited two book series published by Transitions Abroad Publishing, Inc.: the widely praised and cited Work Abroad: The Complete Guide to Finding a Job Overseas, and the unique Alternative Travel Directory, the first comprehensive directory of alternatives to mass tourism—from volunteering in Tibet to working in Africa to rafting in Costa Rica.

In 2003, after 26 years, Clay turned over publication of the magazine to Sherry Schwarz, which he discussed in his interview with Latin American and Ecotourism contributing editor Ron Mader of Planeta.com. Clay continued his association with Transitions Abroad in the role of senior editor for both the magazine and the website. Dr. Hubbs delighted in the tremendous growth of the Web guide, TransitionsAbroad.com, which many had told him was an impossibly huge project.

Clay Hubbs enjoying wine in Italy
Enjoying some local wine in a cafe at his adopted hilltop village in Tuscany.

In 2004, his son, Gregory Hubbs, whose life experience is a living example of the underlying mission, began consulting work on the TransitionsAbroad.com website in order to honor his father's creation and vision by extending the scope of the core material into the premier no-nonsense web guide for work, study, travel, volunteering, and living abroad. Gregory assumed the role of editor-in-chief in 2010. TransitionsAbroad.com currently reaches an extremely sophisticated, varied, and educated audience worldwide with millions of visitors yearly—an audience that continues to grow even as it influences the editorial direction of many generations of other travel websites.

As a guest, Clay shed light on all kinds of educational travel: responsible travel; family, teen, and senior travel; ecotravel; adventure travel; and studying, living, working, and retiring abroad. Clay was a warm, serene, witty expert guest, and was interviewed and quoted in the The New York Times, BBC, Time and many other travel and educational media elsewhere in print and online.

Selected Articles by Clay Hubbs
Transitions Abroad at 30
Traveling to Learn
Transitions Abroad at 25
The Year of Study Abroad
Letter from Ethiopia: Visitors to Africa's "Best-Kept Secret" Receive Rich Rewards
Language Vacations in Ecuador: Combine Language Immersion with Ecotourism
Cooking in Tuscany: Hands-On Lessons in La Cucina Tradizionale
Beyond Venice: Soaking Up the Wine, Cooking, and Culture of the Friuli
The Impact of Communications Technology on the Study Abroad Field: A Personal Reflection
Selected Interviews by Clay Hubbs
Back Door Travel: An Interview with Rick Steves
Long-Term Travel: An Interview with Rolf Potts
Slow Food in Italy and Beyond: An Interview with Carlo Petrini
Alternative Travel: An Interview with Alison Gardner
Volunteer Overseas the Right Way: An Interview with Zahara Heckscher
Living and Working Abroad: An Interview with Jean-Marc Hachey
Responsible Travel and Ecotourism: A Conversation with Ron Mader and Deborah McLaren
Travel in a Time of War: A Conversation with Rob Sangster
The Ins and Outs of Volunteering: An Interview with Dianne Brause
An Expatriate Painter in Italy: An Interview with Jules Maidoff

Clay Hubbs died after a typically graceful and quietly heroic battle against multiple myeloma on March 29, 2007, planning future travels while editing copy for the magazine and website. Clay was reading world literature voraciously until the very end of his life, as he was intensely aware that the correspondence between physical and imaginative travel transcends space and time.


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