Monmouth College is among a group of 150 partners in higher education calling for doubling the number of U.S. college students studying abroad.
Launched this week by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the five-year Generation Study Abroad initiative seeks to bring together leaders in education, business and government to develop specific, measurable actions to help reach this ambitious goal. The result will be thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world.
“This IIE initiative comes at a serendipitous time,” said Monmouth College president Mauri Ditzler. “The encouragement it provides to increase the number of students studying abroad is in exact accord with our Financial Strategic Plan and with our admissions and enrollment management objectives. Our participation in this agreement is an incentive to us to highlight and promote initiatives already under way at the college.”
The college already has a strong foundation of existing programs in place, including: the Global Perspectives component of the Integrated Studies curriculum; the implementation of research trips abroad to such places as Southeast Asia and Ecuador; and the development of international alumni chapters and increased international alumni networking.
Monmouth will also attempt to raise participation within existing institutional exchange programs, such as Japan’s Akita University and Scotland’s University of the Highlands and Islands, and the dozens of study abroad programs with which it is affiliated. It will also commit to getting more groups of students involved with the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), which Ditzler said “provides exceptionally rich direct enrollment opportunities for students.”
As part of its commitment to Generation Study Abroad, Ditzler said that college would also be more intentional about promoting Fulbright International Summer Institutes, exploring opportunities for students to develop competencies in teaching English to students of other languages and providing performance trips abroad for music ensembles.
“Study abroad changes lives,” stated faculty member Kristin Larson, who coordinates Monmouth’s off-campus study programs. “It introduces students to new cultures and enables them to test and develop social skills and analytical abilities. It also greatly enhances their appreciation for the diversity of languages and cultures within which they will live and work after they graduate from Monmouth.”
Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million of its own funds to this initiative over the next five years. IIE is also actively raising funds for a Study Abroad Fund to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions.
“I am proud of Monmouth College for its immediate and enthusiastic endorsement of the IIE Generation Study Abroad initiative,” said Bren Tooley, MC”s associate dean for academic affairs, who coordinates the college’s international recruitment. “The consortium IIE has brought together provides a national community and a highly visible context for the college’s commitment to an internationalized curriculum.”
IIE is launching Generation Study Abroad because it believes the number and proportion of today’s students who graduate with an educational experience abroad should be higher. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career. According to the “Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange” released by the IIE last November with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 295,000 students studied abroad in 2011-12. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation in study abroad so that the annual total reported will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade.
“This national initiative reminds us that we are not alone in our commitment to serious, academically substantive study abroad programming for as many students as possible,” concluded Tooley.
Other college and universities involved in the initial Generation Study Abroad coalition include Hope College, Wheaton College, Bard College and Elon University.