Integrate foreign study

U.S. citizens’ interest in foreign affairs has understandably increased. Following Sept. 11, the media began covering more events abroad. And today economists rarely speak of conditions within the United States without mentioning factors precipitated from global issues. Americans are finally learning isolationism is a fallacy.

That trend is mirrored here on campus. The Global Campus reported the number of students studying abroad this semester increased 17 percent. Also, approximately 65 percent more students inquired about study abroad opportunities through the Global Campus. Students are clearly interested in gaining an international perspective, but many don’t go because of time constraints – they want to graduate in four to five years. And since credits received abroad rarely fulfill requirements, students find a semester abroad also means one more semester of college.

The Global Campus is looking to fix that problem. The department is pushing hard to implement a program it calls Curriculum Integration. Working with all 204 majors on all four campuses, Global Campus is asking departments to find suitable courses at foreign colleges that will fulfill University requirements. It’s a good policy, and the University needs to expedite the process by encouraging the various departments to participate.

Currently, students receive credits for their classes taken abroad, but rarely do these credits fulfill requirements. This means students graduate with an extra 12 or 15 credits from their study abroad that don’t apply toward anything. If students want to try to get those credits to fulfill a requirement, they have to petition their college or department. So, for instance, an art history major studying Indian art in India will have to petition the art department to receive credits fulfilling the same requirements ARTH 3014W – Art of India – does. But as the art department puts it, a student needs to “consult the departmental adviser well in advance of your departure” in order to provide information that will determine if the class will work. This leaves students scrambling to contact an instructor in India to get a course syllabus and related information. Considering how hard it can be here at the University to find out who’s teaching your class next semester, one can imagine the difficulty of trying to do this from another continent.

Each semester, many students study abroad and petition for credits. Some of these petitions are granted. But currently, no one is keeping track of these approved classes to let future students know that, for example, there are courses in Turkey that will fulfill requirements in their major, and that’s an inefficient waste. Global Campus’s Curriculum Integration will remedy this, and all University departments need to support it.