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Study Abroad expanding to provide more students broader opportunities

by Karen A. Grava - February 21, 2006

For Provost Peter Nicholls – a man who studied in one country and works in another – developing global citizens is a major goal for the University during the next five years.

And the Study Abroad program is taking him seriously.

“This year we will send 12 percent of our undergraduate student body – about 500 people – abroad,” says Ross Lewin, director of the program.

“That’s up from 10.5 percent last year and 7.2 percent in 2002-03. But the provost has told us that he would like to have 30 percent of our students going abroad, so there is more work to be done.”

Nicholls, who is British and earned his degrees in his home country, although most of his professional life has been in the U.S., has appointed a task force to study the issue of global education.

Chaired by Veronica Makowsky, vice provost for undergraduate education and regional campus administration, the group will present a five-year plan by May 1 that will:

  • identify ways to recruit at least 100 international undergraduates;
  • increase the number of students studying abroad; develop an international living-learning community;
  • and inventory the curriculum and suggest ways to develop clusters of courses, minors, or majors that focus on global issues.

To give U.S. residents a more global emphasis, however, they must not only learn about culture and study languages, but also travel, Lewin says.

No longer is studying abroad for the children of the rich. No longer is it focused only on study.

This photo was taken in Japan during a Study Abroad trip. The program is adding more non-European destinations to its offerings.
This photo was taken in Japan during a Study Abroad trip. The program is adding more non-European destinations to its offerings.
Photo by Dean Russell

And no longer is UConn’s program targeted only at Western Europe – although many students do study in England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and other countries.

Students now can also choose programs in Latin and South America, Asia, and Africa.

A new program in South Africa has attracted several African-Americans, including three who graduated from Hartford’s Weaver High School.

That program includes 12 students, all learning about human rights and social justice and doing community service at non-governmental agencies.

One such agency is Christel House, a school for very poor children from the townships, a women’s shelter, and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town.

Other students are in Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, Chile, Singapore, China, Japan, Egypt, and Tanzania.

“We are represented in more than 65 countries so far,” Lewin says.

UConn’s policies allow students to remain eligible for federal financial aid while studying abroad, and also allow students to earn UConn credit and have their grades integrated into their GPA.

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