The International Center is pleased to announce MU has joined the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade. The initiative also focuses on increasing the diversity of study abroad participants, ensuring quality and removing barriers to participation. MU joins more than 300 other partners in this initiative to significantly increase study abroad participation.
In the recently-adopted strategic operating plan, MU committed to increasing study abroad participation to 30 percent of the undergraduate graduating class by 2018. Toward this goal, the International Center is pursuing several new initiatives designed to serve students who have historically been underrepresented in study abroad participation:
- Curricular integration. The International Center will promote greater integration of courses taken abroad with the MU undergraduate curriculum. Study abroad advisers are working with departmental advisers and faculty members to identify courses taught abroad that will fulfill major and minor degree requirements. From this interaction, the center will develop curriculum advising sheets and a course-equivalency database for MU undergraduate majors. First priority for this project will be majors that are underrepresented in study abroad participation. In addition, the International Center is working with the School of Nursing and School of Health Professions to enhance and expand study abroad programs that provide students in these majors with international clinical and practicum experiences.
- Expanding internship opportunities. In summer 2014, the International Center is launching its first credit-based internship program, and additional programs are in development. These programs are designed to foster cross-cultural communication skills, and will be very attractive to students as well as their prospective employers.
- Outreach to first-generation college students. The center will focus particular efforts to reach MU’s first-generation college students. Center staff will collaborate with pertinent student services units, academic divisions and student organizations to introduce and encourage study abroad opportunities to this population as early as possible in their student experience.
- Addressing student financial barriers. The International Center is taking several steps to make study abroad experiences more affordable and accessible. For example, the center is offering workshops for students on conventional and innovative approaches to covering the costs of study abroad. In addition, MU plans to build on its success in helping Pell-eligible students obtain Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships through enhanced advising in person and online, with the goal of significantly increasing the number of MU students who receive Gilman funding.
- Leveraging technology to manage growth. MU will expand and extend its current use of Terra Dotta software to support study abroad programs initiated by all MU academic divisions. Implementing this integrative infrastructure will increase convenience and efficiency for students, faculty and staff involved and strengthen MU’s capacity for risk management and, if necessary, emergency communications and assistance.