Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Requiring Study Abroad

Here's a twist on the study abroad experience: New York University's Stern School of Business actually requires study abroad of its undergraduate students — and not just once, but several times over the course of the traditional four-year undergraduate experience.

Sally Blount-Lyon, dean of the Stern school, says her students spend part of sophomore year studying in London, part of junior year in Shanghai, and time after that in India and other developing markets.

Here's Blount-Lyon talking about the program and its goals:

Sounds great, but there is the fact that schools such as NYU (with tuition and fees of $38,683 per year before living expenses are factored in) are much better equipped to put on and require such programs. NYU is one of the nation's wealthiest universities, and no doubt a good share of the students attending the university are less financially stressed about study abroad than would be students at, say, my institution.

Blount-Lyon recognizes this, but she says there are ways that colleges can better integrate international perspectives into their curricula:
I would argue that moving undergraduate education in this direction is a social imperative. Given the ever-increasing connectedness of our complex world, students need to understand how political tensions, conflicting attitudes about globalization and religion, and the ever-expanding reach of free markets will impact worldwide security and the future of the global marketplace. And the best way to make that happen is to send them packing — inspired and determined to understand the wonders of the world around them.
It's not just business students who'd benefit, but nearly every student. The issue, of course, is money, but demographics also play a part. The student population in the United States is getting older, and more students have multiple responsibilities with work and family commitments.

Still, we could get more serious about study abroad — at least in terms of exposing students to a small taste of it. Some of my colleagues at Simpson and I have dreamed of a first-year program that would include an "introduction to study abroad" component that would have our new students spending just a few days in an international locale — Paris, Berlin, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, wherever. We'd love to find a way to build such study into tuition and fees for first-year students with an eye toward "hooking" them on travel courses and encouraging them to go back sometime during their time with us.

Yes, there are lots of pitfalls to such a plan. But if the idea is to get students to get out of the country, this is a good first idea to kick around.

1 comment:

  1. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

    Study Abroad


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