The World Is Our Classroom
Austin College again ranks #1 in the nation for study abroad based upon percentage of participation among baccalaureate institutions in the 2011 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange (IEE). The report indicates an increase in U.S. students studying abroad, with nearly 10,000 more students studying abroad for credit in academic year 2009-2010 than the previous year.
Austin College has been ranked at #1 in this category four of the past six years and has developed a reputation for all things global. At least 70 percent of Austin College graduates of the past decade have had one or more study abroad experiences in college. (IEE reports 14 percent of all undergraduate students study abroad.) The Austin College numbers are quite intentional. The Center for Global Learning was established to enhance crosscultural learning in students’ terms abroad. “We are pleased, of course that our numbers are nationally competitive,” said Truett Cates, director of the center. “It shows that students at Austin College respond to the call to a global educational mission.”
“We are so aware of how important it is that today’s college students—our next generation of leaders—have global understanding and true awareness of the world around them,” said Austin College President Marjorie Hass. “The earth is a small boat and we rise and fall together on it. In coming years our world will need to deal with environmental, economic, and societal issues that will require the broadened perspective of experience in other cultures. A new level of sophistication and experience will be required from the leaders upon whom we will depend to create success in our businesses and communities. That is why the international focus of Austin College students is so crucial.”
International travel also provides connections between coursework and reality. “It’s important to find ways to connect theory and practice,” Dr. Hass said. “That is, our students are not just evaluating theories about world hunger; they travel and see a hungry world with their own eyes. They not only see it, but they learn what it looks like from other cultures’ perspectives. With that experience, they really can interpret and evaluate how to address world hunger.”
During the 2009-2010 academic year, which the latest IEE data represents, Austin College January Term and traditional study abroad programs sent students to Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, and Uruguay.
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