Monday, April 27, 2009

SSA Goes on the Road — to France

I’m off today with 11 students and an assistant for a 15-day study tour of French culture, and we'll be filing reports from the road over the next couple of weeks. I’m sure there will be plenty to report, but the wild card is Internet accessibility (hotel room wireless = €€€€€) and, if we need to go to Internet cafés, French keyboards

But, as we’re always telling students, adaptation is the spice of life. So let the adaptation begin!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Time Abroad Impacts Student Creativity

International educators have long cited the benefits of study abroad for students who go — intellectual and personal growth, greater sensitivity to cross-cultural values, a sense of world citizenship.

Now we can add a heightened sense of creativity to the list, if a new study from the American Psychological Association holds weight.

The APA report is a compilation of five studies of student groups who spent time at Paris’ Sorbonne, at business school INSEAD with campuses in France and Singapore, and at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Researchers say their studies don’t prove that the study-abroad experience builds creativity per se, but that living abroad and cultural adaptation do result in more creativity among individuals.

From a Reuters story on the APA study:
“This research may have something to say about the increasing impact of globalization on the world, a fact that has been hammered home by the recent financial crisis,” said the study’s lead author, William Maddux, assistant professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD.

“Knowing that experiences abroad are critical for creative output makes study abroad programs and job assignments in other countries that much more important, especially for people and companies that put a premium on creativity and innovation.”
A link to the abstract of the report is here. It’s free to APA members and $11.95 to others.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Building Citizen Diplomacy from Iowa

Smart Study Abroad reader Derek Forsythe of the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy sent a kind note about the blog and asked permission to reprint some materials in his organization’s newsletter, and I’m more than happy to oblige.

But — and chalk this up to the you-learn-something-new-everyday file — I was a bit surprised to learn that the Center is based in Des Moines, Iowa, the same city where this blog is produced. International educators keep talking about ours being a small world. This is proof positive.

Here’s a link to the center’s case statement and to its most recent newsletter.

FEA Dues Will Stay Same in 2009-2010

The Forum on Education Abroad will be keeping membership dues at current levels when the the new academic year begins in the fall. Membership invoices will be sent out in the two couple of weeks.

In a statement published at the Forum’s Web site, President Brian Whalen said that, despite the financial crisis, membership in the organization has risen 30 percent in the year.

“Forum membership will remain an outstanding value and an important indication of institutional commitment to Standards of Good Practice,” he said.

The First Step: Getting a Passport

IIE is reporting success with its new campaign designed to help U.S. student clear the first hurdle in studying abroad — getting a passport.

Announced in February, the Get a Passport: Study Abroad campaign now has 50 member institutions, representing research universities, small liberal arts colleges and community colleges.

Signing on to the campaign commits an institution that taking a small number of easy steps to encourage internationalization and study abroad on their campus. They are as basic as sending every admitted student a passport application as part of their materials welcoming them to campus.

Institutions that undertake creative and commendable promotional efforts will be recognized at the IIE Best Practices conference in 2010.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today’s Video: Florida Journalists in Berlin

As a journalism professor, I’ve found this new video from the University of Florida’s journalism program to be a refreshing mix of my two passions. And it’s well done work, as opposed to much more amateurish student-produced videos that often are put up online.

French University Strikes Now Threaten Year

Strikes by university students and faculty in France are continuing, U.K. newspaper Guardian newspaper reports, and the possibility that students could complete the year’s studies is now in doubt.

French education ministers are warning that if lectures aren’t started before May, French and international students will miss their examinations and therefore forfeit an entire academic year.

“The government will never accept exams being sacrificed,” Prime Minister François Fillon said Wedensday. “That would be a catastrophe for France's image in the world.”

American students studying in France have reported that they haven’t been getting much classroom instruction since the strikes began in February — but they have been getting a firsthand look at the sometimes-volatile relationships among French faculty, administrators and students.

According to the Guardian, the strikes are the single largest stoppage of work the modern history of French universities. About a quarter of the nation’s 83 universities have suspended at least some classwork, and more may join the strikes after next week’s May 1 celebrations of worker rights.

While most agree that French universities are in need of reform, faculties are incensed over proposals from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government that universities be run on the models of successful commercial enterprises.

“You can’t measure universities like a factory in terms of economic success,” says Valérie Robert, a lecturer in German history at a Paris university. “We feel our freedom as academic researchers is being totally curbed.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A $325 Study Abroad Program

Struggling economy got your study-abroad numbers down? Students thinking that they can’t afford to go across the street, much less across the border? Three West Virginia universities are fighting back with a short-term study-abroad program for a mere $325.

The schools — Marshall University, West Virginia University and West Virginia State University — will collaborate through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to offer an eight-day course to Canada beginning May 16. Students will earn credit and international experience through a course titled Introduction to the Political and Cultural Identity of Canada and Quebec.

“We were trying to design a program that was very affordable,” Clark Egnor, executive director of Marshall’s Center for International Programs, told The Parthenon student newspaper there.

“Also, in Quebec, they speak French, so it's exotic enough that it will give students a very different experience,” says Egnor. “They're going to be stepping outside their own language zone, and it (Quebec City) looks like Europe.”

Faculty members from each of the three universities will lecture to students during the program, and instruction will also come from the Université de Laval in Quebec City. The students will also will visit museums and other sites. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Zealand Bids for Abroad Students

Spurred by a plunging Kiwi dollar, education officials in New Zealand are actively marketing their country as a study-abroad destination for students who are worried about costs.

A story in today’s Dominion Post newspaper in Wellington, the New Zealand capital, says the campaign is paying off — the country has seen a 15 percent increase in foreign-student enrollment in just nine months.

Government officials actively pursued a devaluation of the nation’s currency partly to improve New Zealand’s attractiveness as a destination for international students. Chinese students had flocked to New Zealand until 2003, when they largely disappeared from Kiwi campuses.

Officials say that there’s now greater diversity among international students in New Zealand, including a growing number of Americans who have been finding European and Australian short- and long-term programs to be too pricey. Saudi Arabians, French and Germans also are traveling to New Zealand in greater numbers.

The Kiwi dollar is worth 55 cents American today, down nearly 30 percent from just a few months ago. Another newspaper, The Manawatu Standard, reports that the currency is so low that some international students are actually asking to pay tuition two years at a time.

Educational exports are big business in New Zealand, as is the case in Australia. The industry is New Zealand’s fifth-biggest export and generating $2.3 billion NZ ($1.3 billion US) per year. Officials hope to grow the sector to $3 billion NZ over the next five years.

The embedded video here is from thaber1 at YouTube, who spent a term studying in New Zealand in 2008.

Monday, April 20, 2009

IIE Releases its Annual Report

The Institute of International Education released its annual report for 2008 today. A copy can be downloaded here at IIE’s Web site.

Today’s Video: The Oxford Experience


A student known to YouTube users only as eakornbizkit has posted a complete documentary of a study abroad term at Oxford University. What makes this a bit different is that the fourth part of the documentary is shot two years after the experience and gives some of the students who participated a chance to reflect with the benefit of the passage of time. All four parts are embedded above.<

Washington & Jefferson President on Access

Washington and Jefferson University has just posted video on a speech by its president, Tori Haring-Smith, who spoke to the Governor’s Conference on Higher Education on March 17 on the subject of ensuring equal access to opportunities for students, including study abroad. I'm unable to embed the video because Vimeo won’t permit it, but you can find the speech in its entirety here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Economy Leads Students to New Destinations

The down economy isn’t leading to fewer students going abroad from many schools in Pennsylvania, but it may be making them more likely to consider nontraditional locations.

The Pitt News at the University of Pittsburgh checked with study-abroad offices at its school, along with Penn State, Leslie University and LaRoche College, and found that overall numbers of students going abroad are holding steady from a year ago.

But students and families are more cost-conscious than ever, and that means European and Australian destinations are losing favor to locations in Africa and Latin America.

Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, the director of the study-abroad program at Penn State, said students are asking plenty of questions about costs and are waiting until just before deadline to submit applications and deposits.

“From the beginning of the year, we’ve seen a lot of caution with students,” she said.

Friday, April 17, 2009

South Korean Students Staying Home, Too

It’s not just American students who are thinking twice about study abroad in a tough economy. South Koreans are suffering from a double whammy — a struggling economy and a sinking currency — that are forcing many students to stay home.

David McNeill reports in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) that the result has been a doubling of the cost of study abroad for South Korean students in just one year. The impact is being felt most dramatically at Asian universities that take in the lion’s share of South Koreans abroad, but nearly 70,000 Korean students spent time in the United States in 2007.

Some Japanese private institutions depend on South Korean students to fill seats and make budgets, and those institutions are now seeking government assistance and even considering tuition deferrals to keep them coming.

The sharp drop being felt in Asia won’t necessarily be felt in the United States, according to Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president of the Institute of International Education. Many of the South Korean students coming to America are graduate students in science and technology and will likely come anyway.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Experiential Learning in Religious Studies

New research published in Teaching Theology & Religion focuses on the intellectual power of religious studies in a variety of experiential contexts, including study abroad.

Jennifer Oldstone-Moore of Wittenberg University published the article, which is available on a subscription-only basis at the journal’s Web site. From the author-supplied abstract:
This article outlines a template for sustained experiential learning designed to provide a context for learning the affective and performative as well as intellectual power of religion. This approach was developed for a traditional academic framework, adapting pedagogies developed for experiential learning, aesthetic training, and study abroad, and draws on personal experiences of teaching East Asian religions. The approach integrates intellectual learning with out of class experience to stimulate and enrich the highly personal and often significant questions that may arise upon studying religion and encountering religious practices both in and out of the classroom.
Oldstone-Moore is a specialist at Wittenberg in Chinese religious traditions and teaches courses in Chinese and Japanese religion, Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism and Chinese popular religion, Religion and Literature in East Asia, political manifestations of Chinese religion and East Asian Studies.

Cheating on a Cross-Cultural Basis

American students abroad learn a variety of differences between the U.S. system of higher education and those of their host countries. That includes differing ideas on what constitutes academic dishonesty and what schools should do about it.

Wednesday’s meeting of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers in Chicago included a session on “‘Cheating’ or ‘Sharing’? Academic Ethics Across Cultures.” Inside Higher Education’s Doug Lederman has a full story at that site's Thursday edition.

Plagiarism is seen as a growing problem in American universities, where some believe the practice has reached epidemic proportions. But AACRAO members heard Opal Leeman Bartzis, field director for Butler University’s Institute for Study Abroad, say Wednesday that practices viewed as taboo stateside aren’t necessarily viewed that way in other countries.
[T]he reality [is] that many countries draw the line between collaboration and cheating, for instance, in very different places. In Germany, sharing of answers is common, and not sharing is considered “selfish” and even taboo, said Bartzis. In Russia, she said, students openly share notes and answers, and in many former Soviet states, instructors routinely expect bribes for grades.
One story shared in the panel concerned an American political science student who attended an institution in Santiago, Chile, for a term. The student submitted samples of her work to her home university, as the university required of students seeking study abroad credit. But the department chair, alarmed at the lax documentation of one paper, refused to accept the work for credit — even though the paper had been evaluated well in Chile.

Attendees at the AACRAO panel faulted the chair’s actions and said the home university should have accepted the work because it met the standards of the host institution.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today’s Video: Berry Students in Korea

Bahrom International Program - South Korea from Berry College on Vimeo.

Berry College in Georgia has posted new video on tbe Bahrom International Program in which it takes part through its relationship with Seoul Women’s University. The program sends students for four-week programs in Korean lifestyle. Courses, taught in English, instruct students on the nation’s historical, religious and economic background, ongoing political tension with North Korea, city streets, art and the Korean language.

Today’s Video: Another How-To for Students

Another in the how-to file of videos on study abroad, though this one isn’t affiliated with any institution or provider and offers generalized advice for students who want to go overseas but may not have programs at their school or simply don’t know how to proceed.

Cuba Policy Change Earns NAFSA Praise

President Obama’s decision to permit Cuban-Americans visit and send money to their relatives on the Caribbean island is getting praise from NAFSA, which hopes the move — characterized by the New York Times this morning as loosening restrictions “only a crack” — could ultimately lead to the restoration of educational-exchange programs.

The Bush administration virtually eliminated educational exchanges with Cuba earlier this decade — and, to be clear, the Obama decision does not immediately restore those exchanges. But NAFSA says it is heartened anyway:
NAFSA applauds President Obama for his action yesterday reversing the restrictions that the Bush administration imposed on family travel and remittances to Cuba and making it easier for families to send gift parcels to Cuba. The administration’s moves to open up telecommunications with the island also constitute a major step forward.

We now urge the administration to move quickly to rescind the rest of the restrictions on communications with Cuba that were imposed by the Bush administration — restrictions on educational travel. At a minimum, the Obama administration should restore the situation to where it was before the Bush administration: Americans should be able to study in Cuba and participate in educational travel to the island, and Cuban scholars should be permitted to attend academic conferences in the United States.

NAFSA further urges the administration to set a genuinely new direction in U.S. policy toward Cuba by reconsidering all of the limitations on travel to Cuba.
Cuba was a major destination of U.S. students and academics before the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. According to Skye Stephenson, dean of the first-year experience at Landmark College and a member of the editorial board at Abroad View, says exchanges have ebbed and flowed since then.

Stephenson says that as many as 40,000 Americans were traveling to Cuba each year at the beginning of this decade under “people-to-people” exchange programs. More than 750 colleges had permission to carry out programs in Cuba by that time, and nearly 4,000 students studied in Cuba as late as 2002.

That changed with the Bush administration’s crackdown in 2003. Since 2004, there have been virtually no exchanges between American and Cuban students and academics.

Australian Investigation of ‘Corrupt’ Colleges

Australia’s growing status as a study-abroad destination may be tempting shady operators to try to get a piece of the action there. 

Australian newspaper The Age reports today that the government is facing pressure to crack down on “corrupt training colleges that are making millions of dollars a year exploiting foreign students by breaching immigration and education laws.”

The Age quotes unnamed government sources as saying that some colleges are “fleecing” students by using forged certificates and engaging in immigration fraud. The newspaper also charges that government agencies are “lackadaisical” in checking student credentials and that some students are using scams the gain permanent residency there.

There’s more:
Government departments have been inundated with letters of complaint from students alleging illegal activity and threatening or unethical behaviour by college operators.

They allege colleges are offering qualifications for under-the-counter payments; that students are being bullied into making advance payments for semesters or face fines; and that students are being fined up to $250 for being late for classes or for submitting assignments late.

Students also allege colleges are charging them for subject results and threatening to have them deported if they ask to switch colleges. Some colleges are allegedly charging students thousands of dollars to be formally allowed to leave.
International education is a major component of the Australian economy, bringing $13.7 billion Australian (just under $10 billion U.S.) into the country each year. With the economy struggling in Australia as elsewhere, the incentive to scam international students seems to be growing.

“It's out of control,” one unnamed official told The Age. “In the current economic climate … I think people are fairly reticent to try to fiddle with this huge earner in Australia.”

Despite the allegations, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, an industry body, insists that the “vast majority” of the country’s private education and training providers operate ethically.

Study Abroad and the ‘Civic Generation’

USA Today leads its Life section today with a story on the civic mindedness of the current generation of undergraduate students. Why are today’s students so much more interested in helping others than any generation since the 1960s? Study abroad programs get much of the credit.

Reporter Andrea Stone writes that today’s undergraduates have more “global connections” than any other generation in history:
Because of the Internet, social networking sites such as Facebook, the growth of study-abroad programs and ethnic diversity, the Millennials are closely attached to the world and want to make it a better place.

Whether it’s teaching English in China or building a well in Africa, Millennials are “in tune” with global needs, says Philip Gardner of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University. He says many who study abroad — 70 percent of students at four-year colleges have traveled outside the United States — “get the bug to go back internationally, and one of the fastest ways … is to do volunteer projects.”

Amanda MacGurn studied in Belgium, taught English in Chile and interned with Doctors Without Borders. Now 26, the Southern Oregon University graduate leaves next month for Romania to work for the Peace Corps.

“I want to devote my life to international service work,” says MacGurn, who lives in Eugene, Ore. “This is a great opportunity to serve both my country as an ambassador and also the international community.”
Study abroad doesn’t get all the credit. Other factors: global uncertainty after Sept. 11; a struggling economy; a growing number of high schools, colleges and universities that require some kind of service as a condition of graduation; and what Stone calls the “Obama effect” that inspires a group of students that voted for the new president by more than a 2-1 margin.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another Push for Science Students

As discussed here and in other forums, American students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields often have few opportunities to study abroad because of rigid degree requirements and other factors.

This morning’s Columbia Spectator includes a story on one of the latest efforts to open study abroad to more STEM students. Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has appointed a new director of global initiatives and education to help more students get out of the country as part of their undergraduate education.

“I will reach out to the students,” says Regine Lambrech, who comes to Columbia from Quinnipiac University and, before that, was director of international relations at French engineering school Ecole Centrale de Lyon. 

“I want to let them know that space exists in their curriculum. I really want to see engineering students go abroad.”

Only four engineering students at Columbia are studying abroad this semester, but SEAS officials say they want to see more in the coming years.

Using the Library Anytime From Anywhere

Study abroad is a great opportunity for personal and intellectual growth among undergraduates, but how do they access a library to help with research and information while out of the country?

University of Vermont library associate professor Laurie Kutner explores that question in a new article published in the most recent edition of College & Research Libraries (subscription required). Kutner spent a six-month sabbatical in Costa Rica in 2007, trying to learn how scholars access the secondary sources they need when conducting primary research in one of the world’s remote areas.

Kutner’s newly published research extends that study to how undergraduates in 10 Costa Rica-based study-abroad programs use their home-campus libraries to access the academic information they need.

The results are that many abroad students have relative uncertainty about using their home institution libraries while outside of the country. Kutner also believes that there’s more that university libraries could be doing to help their students get the most of their research sources when out of the country.

Friday, April 10, 2009

French Strikes and American Students

Strikes at French universities during the spring have had an impact on students at Brown, Princeton, Georgetown and other American universities — and more is to come.

France 24 reports that teachers from preschool through university are planning massive April 28 marches throughout the country, and that may be followed by a May 1 general strike throughout the country reminiscent of the Jan. 29 and March 19 strikes that each crippled France for a day.

The university strikes are in opposition to the French government’s involvement with the Bologna Process that is leading to the standardization of higher education throughout Europe.

The general strikes by workers throughout the country are in response to the handling of the recession by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government. The strike impact is being felt in the transportation and tourism industries, many of which cater to American students during the spring short-term travel course season.

Planning Early at Princeton

Once a student gets beyond financing issues, one of the biggest obstacles in study abroad is fitting in a term overseas. For students in highly technical fields, it’s a particular challenge that is one of the reasons why STEM students are less likely to go abroad than are others.

The issue is exemplified in this story in The Daily Princetonian, in which Senior Associate Dean Nancy Kanach says that many departments insist that students take core courses in their majors at Princeton. And that puts the pinch on students who want to study elsewhere.

“We insist that the core courses of our major … be studied at Princeton, or at institutions that offer courses of comparable rigor and depth,” economist Avinash Dixit told the newspaper in an e-mail. “Unfortunately, there are very few of these in the world. Therefore, we have to make sure that students plan their study abroad very early.”

In some instances, Princeton students must decide by freshman year whether they’ll study abroad so that they can line up prerequisites and major requirements in enough time to free up a term for study abroad. That can be difficult, Kanash says.

Some say a positive campus culture for undergraduates makes students hesitate about leaving Princeton for a semester or a year.

Peter Bogucki, associate dean for undergraduate affairs in the engineering school, says a so-called “Orange bubble” makes it difficult for some students to take a chance on study abroad.

“Princeton students become enmeshed in a web of friendships, activities, classes, sports, clubs and other personal relationships,” he says. “Breaking out of that web for a semester or a year requires effort, stamina and determination.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Today’s Video: Obama on Abroad Exchanges

President Obama’s trip to Europe and Asia included a stop in Turkey, where he held a town-hall meeting with university students. Among the discussion points were the president’s thoughts on the value of exchange programs, including study abroad. Here’s the video of the meeting.

Internationalization Chat Transcript is Online

If you missed today’s live chat on “Innovations in Internationalization” with the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Karin Fischer and Ann Anderson of the University of Washington’s Global Support Project, you can find a transcript here.

Oklahoma State Talk on Globalization

Oklahoma State’s Regents Professors Group recently hosted Lloyd Armstrong of the University of Southern California, who spoke on “The Globalization of American Higher Education: Approaching the Tipping Point.” The video of the presentation is here and runs about 80 minutes. Along with being university professor and provost emeritus at USC, Armstrong is also the writer and editor of Changing Higher Education, at which you’ll find coverage of the variety of issues reshaping the industry in the 21st Century.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Today’s Video: Canisius Promo

I just can’t get enough of these promotional videos that colleges and universities put together for their study abroad programs. With cameras and editing technology cheap (heck, even I can do it...), there's really no reason for any institution to not have a study abroad promo video to have on its Web site or available for students in DVD form.

Today’s video is from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., which rightly brags about its collaborations with universities around the world. But the video goes beyond the sales job and explains that study abroad is an experience with its financial, education — and emotional — ups and downs. It’s a video that speaks to some of the greatest fears of students who are on the fence about whether to get a passport and go.

Italian Earthquakes Impact Study Abroad

At least two American universities have study abroad programs in the Italian city of L’Aquila, which sustained heavy damage in the earthquakes that struck east of Rome on Monday.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Miami University has an exchange relationship with the University of L’Aquila, where Rector Ferdinando di Orio says the campus was “practically destroyed” and four students were killed in the collapse of a dormitory. 

Officials at Miami say they’ll help out by opening the university to more exchange students from L’Aquila this fall. Miami has no students at L’Aguila this spring and will wait to see the progress of rebuilding before deciding on whether to send students in 2010.

Meanwhile, Georgetown University officials told the The Hoya student newspaper they aren’t yet sure whether a group of 10 Georgetown students planning a summer at L’Aquila will be able to go. Another group of Georgetown students currently in Italy were unaffected by the earthquakes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Keeping Global Projects Running

Karin Fischer, the international education beat writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education, has a story in the upcoming Friday edition (temporary free access) on the Global Support Project at the University of Washington, which assists faculty and students with research and program abroad.

The Chronicle is planning a live chat on the program on Thursday morning at 11 a.m. EDT. While much of the Chronicle’s site is behind a pay wall, the story and chat will be available at no charge.

The chat guest on Thursday will be Ann Anderson, associate vice president and controller of the University of Washington. As leader of the Global Support Project, Anderson interacts with faculty and staff members in many departments across the university, working on accounting and reporting, grants and contracts, procurement and payment processing.

The story and chat are the first in an “Innovators in Internationalization” series that the newspaper will be publishing over the coming weeks and months.

Studying in Britain, Step by Step

Britain is the No.1 destination for U.S. students heading abroad, and NAFSA now provides a link to the United Kingdom’s new guidelines for student visa for U.S. passport holders. The changes went into effect on March 31.

Today’s Video: Morehead State

Students of Morehead State University’s International Studies program in Minnesota tell their story of the benefits of studying in another country. This is a program from the university’s Newscenter program.

On Strike in France

The words “French” and “strikes” go together about as well as “French” and “toast” — and Brown University students are getting a first-hand education this term in labor relations in their host country.

Widespread strikes at French universities have led to the cancellation of some or all of courses in which the Brown students have enrolled, according to the Brown Daily Herald. Of 24 students spending the term in Paris, 17 have had courses partially or completely cancelled.

French faculty have led strikes at many institutions during the past nine weeks to show their opposition to the Bologna Process in the standardization of higher education across Europe.

The strikes have ended at universities in Lyon, and Brown officials hope the strikes in Paris will end soon. Kendall Brostuen, Brown’s director of the Office of International Programs, said that Brown students can still expect to receive full academic credit for their overseas work.

Steady Going at Brown

Fall 2009 study-abroad numbers at Brown University are holding steady when compared with those of 2008, the Brown Daily Herald reported today.

Director of International Programs Kendall Brostuen says Brown will have about 250 students going abroad next fall, compared to 248 last fall and 212 in 2007. While some schools are showing substantial declines in study abroad enrollment, Brostuen says his institution’s enrollments “demonstrate that Brown students understand the value of the international dimension to liberal learning.”

About two-thirds of Brown’s abroad students will head for Europe in the fall. Twenty percent will study in Asia and the Americas, 10 percent in Africa and 5 percent in the Middle East and Oceania.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Liberal Arts Go Global

Liberal arts institutions, those American-style contributions to higher education, are moving into the global arena with the creation of an alliance of colleges and universities that will seek out exchanges with the growing number similar schools being established around the planet.

Inside Higher Education’s Elizabeth Redden has the full story in this morning’s Web edition, where she reports that 12 American liberal arts colleges and universities will collaborate with 11 international institutions on the sharing of programs for faculty and staff exchanges that will help the members develop mutual programs of benefit.

The liberal arts approach to higher education has long been part of the industry’s face, but the model is growing in other parts of the globe. One of the international schools that will take part is American University of Paris (pictured here).

The American schools in the alliance are:
  • Albion College. 
  • Allegheny College.
  • The College of Wooster.
  • Denison University.
  • DePauw University.
  • Earlham College.
  • Hope College.
  • Kalamazoo College.
  • Kenyon College.
  • Oberlin College.
  • Ohio Wesleyan University.
  • Wabash College.
Along with the American University of Paris, international institutions involved are:
  • Al Akhawayn University in Morocco.
  • American College of Greece.
  • The American universities in Bulgaria, Cairo and Nigeria.
  • Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts in Slovakia.
  • Effat University in Saudi Arabia.
  • Forman Christian College in Pakistan.
  • Franklin College in Switzerland.
  • John Cabot University in Italy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Prepping for France

Most of this blog is devoted to covering the world of study abroad for a growing audience, but my interest in the subject is more than journalistic — I'm also a professor who is leaving for France in three weeks with 11 students to compare French and American cultures and conceptions of good living.

This is the first solo-led study-abroad experience of my career. I've been on three previous travel courses to various locations in Europe, but always with the excellent folks at ACIS to make arrangements and put out fires on the road. If you’re thinking about study abroad for the first time without an on-campus office to help you through the process, ACIS provides high-quality service and a willingness to customize programs to your needs.

Still, cost is becoming ever more important to students and families, and I’m running our 2009 France course on my own to trim costs as much as possible. As things now stand, we’ll likely get our crew to Paris, Bordeaux and Nice for 15 days of meetings and exchanges with locals for about $3,000 a head.

Preparation is essential in study abroad. At Simpson College in Iowa, where I teach, time and resource restrictions limit our ability to prepare our students for abroad experiences to a 1-credit semester-before-departure course. It’s problematic, to be sure, in that there’s just not enough time to fully prepare my students — none of whom have been to France and only one of whom has been abroad at all (and, in her case, to the language-friendly confines of England).

Some of what we’ve covered in the prep course:
  • A book on French and American cultures, Gilles Asselin’s and Ruth Mastron’s Au Contraire: Figuring Out the French, which covers a variety of public and private social and cultural norms in the two countries.
  • Introductions to each of the cities in the travel course. These take place through discussion and video.
  • Basic French words and phrases (I jokingly call the list our stay-out-of-jail list...) for a group that includes 10 students with no meaningful experience in the language and an instructor who also has little skill with the language (but a willingness to try!).
  • How to avoid the “ugly American” stereotype that turns up with too much frequency.
  • Images of the French as propounded to us as Americans by American mass media.
  • Packing, money, electricity and the basics of everyday living in a culture other than your own.
It appears to be a good group of students who are eager to encounter the culture. We’ll spend good chunks of time together as a group but also give them plenty of time to explore in small groups on their own.

Now if I can just get the dining down... If you can recommend restaurants in Paris, Bordeaux or Nice that accommodate groups of 13 traveling on a budget, please let me know.

Today’s Video: Gonzaga Abroad Orientation

Gonzaga University has placed its study abroad orientation program online for all to see. This is part 1 of several parts in a program that runs a couple of hours.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Big 12 Students Lobby for Simon Act

Students from Big 12 universities have been in Washington this week, lobbying members of Congress for support of the Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act that would provide support for significant increases in study abroad opportunities for students.

The Lariat at Baylor University reports that the students were in Washington as part of the annual Big 12 on the Hill day in the capital. The students were also pushing for more funding for Pell Grant programs that help needy college students get their educations.

The Simon Act would seek to boost study abroad in the U.S. by nearly fourfold to 1 million per year. It would also aid students from traditionally underrepresented groups in study abroad, and it would promote nontraditional destinations for study abroad.

The ultimate goal of the Simon Act, supporters say, is to make study abroad as common a part of the higher education experience as writing or science coursework.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Today’s Video: Breaking Barriers

San Francisco videographer Daniel Painitz has just posted new work on how study abroad helps the individual growth of students.

Teaching the Global Citizen

Inside Higher Education has a new podcast featuring an interview with Peter Stearns, the author of Educating Global Citizens in Colleges and Universities, published last December by Routledge.

Stearns, the provost at George Mason University in Virginia, says that he's written the book because of “anomalies” in the recent trend toward globalization of most campuses:
While most all institutions now have study abroad programs (some of them quite new), in 2005 27% of all schools had no sutdents actually studying abroad. Foreign language attainments have sagged, and requirements of courses with a global or international focus in general education programs have dropped (from 41% in 2001 to 37% in 2006). Few institutions have a global coordinator, and fewer than 40% feature a reference to international in their mission statement (though this has increased from 28% in 2001). 
Stearns says his book provides an overview of the main facets of international education, guides institutions that have been hesitating to make global commitments and addresses basic questions of purpose in relationship to larger American and global contexts.
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