Study abroad works toward lofty goal

Faculty and advisors from all five University campuses gathered Friday to continue working toward doubling the percentage of students who study abroad. Since 2001, the Curriculum Integration initiative has helped the University increase the number of students studying abroad. When the initiative started, less than 20 percent of the graduating class studied abroad , compared to 28 percent in 2006-2007, the most recent data available. When the initiative began, the University created a goal for 50 percent of the graduating class to have an international experience, Director of Curriculum Integration Gayle Woodruff said, adding that she foresees reaching the goal in the next four or five years. Spanish lecturer Angela Carlson Lombardi , who led a summer program in Argentina last summer, said everybody has the opportunity to study abroad because foreign classes may be taken in English. âÄúI would imagine this University has one of the highest caliber, certainly one of the highest number, of programs,âÄù she said. The University offers over 300 programs in 70 countries, Woodruff said. As former Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the Institute of Technology, Peter Hudleston said IT was a guinea pig for the initiative because so few students had been studying abroad. âÄúThere was a struggle to find opportunities for students to study abroad,âÄù Hudleston said. The initiative helped to encourage IT students to study abroad by showing them that they could fit a program in their schedule and fulfill major requirements, he said. Since the initiative unofficially began in the mid-1990s, Hudleston said the number of IT students studying abroad has increased from fewer than 10 to more than 150. Through the initiative, Woodruff said the University wants to create a culture that embraces internationalization for undergraduates. âÄúWith this current globalized world that we live in, one of the goals of the University is to help create global citizens and well educated students, and one of those methods is by having students have an international experience,âÄù she said. The initiative at all five University campuses is innovative because it includes faculty and advisors, she said. âÄúThe initiative is to educate faculty and advisors about existing study abroad programs so that they can find the right study abroad programs that work for the different degree programs,âÄù Woodruff said. Currently, over 700 faculty members and advisors between the five campuses have participated in curriculum integration in some manner, she said. One student, individualized studies junior Evan Martin, said heâÄôs had two study abroad experiences since coming to the University and doesnâÄôt plan on stopping. He plans to attend a program in Taiwan this summer, to add to Brazil and Spain. âÄúItâÄôs worth the investment,âÄù Martin said, adding that the scholarship opportunities are plentiful. Studying abroad tests people because studying in a foreign country is overwhelming, Martin said. However, studying abroad is not for everybody, as evidenced by the over 70 percent of students who donâÄôt participate. Journalism sophomore Trevor Scholl said he does not plan to study abroad during his time at the University. âÄúI donâÄôt think it would benefit me in my career goals, and it does cost quite a bit,âÄù he said. Though his advisors have discussed it with him, he said it has never been among his plans.