We received many wonderful nominations and the selection committee has chosen five finalists, listed here in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of May 2013, GoAbroad will highlight the finalists in each of the GoAbroad Innovation Award categories! Winners for each category will be announced during the GoAbroad Reception during the Annual NAFSA Conference & Expo.
Congratulations to the 2013 Innovative New Program Study Abroad Finalists!
Antioch University Education Abroad
Antioch Education Abroad (AEA) of Antioch University, in partnership with the University of Buea (UB) in Cameroon developed a semester-long study abroad program – “Community Development in Cameroon.” First offered in Spring 2012, this is a thematic program with two key innovative elements: direct-enrollment and integrated service learning. Students are immersed in the theme of community development through a uniquely-designed seminar course, service learning, and direct enrollment into thematically-related UB courses.
The program is anchored by the Community Development Seminar, co-designed and co-taught by the Program’s Lead Faculty Member (a UB professor) and the Program’s Academic Coordinator at AEA. In this Seminar, students explore the theoretical perspectives of community development and the initiatives that are taking place in Cameroon. Sustainable community development is central in the curriculum and focuses on projects that benefit the current population without adverse cultural, economic, or environmental impacts on future generations.
The curriculum is fleshed out by the students’ selection of courses from regular UB offerings, including Community Health Practice; Environmental Economics; Women and Social Policy; and Local Government. The focused list of direct-enrollment courses allows for academic oversight by AEA, continuity in the program theme, and students’ full immersion.
An integral component of the Seminar is the service learning experience. Throughout the semester, students spend at least five hours per week volunteering with an organization working on community development or outreach in Buea. The service learning allows students to pair academic learning with hands-on practical experience, providing an invaluable opportunity to learn from and contribute to the local community, while exploring future career paths.
Colorado Mountain College
I became aware of the new regulations for academic travel to Cuba at the 2011 NAFSA conference in Vancouver, Canada. I returned to my institution (Colorado Mountain College) determined to find an instructor willing to put together a trip.
Mr. Gumbrecht was already far along in his planning, and had apparently also been waiting for the opportunity. He put together a trip with considerable difficulty, and took 20+ students to Cuba in early 2013.
Colorado Mountain College is a community college located in predominantly white, upper-class ski-resort communities. There was and is no incentive for instructors to put in the extra work to design, organize, and seek approval for a study abroad program, and there is shockingly little “organic” demand for such programs.
Additionally there was of course resistance to sending “our” students to Cuba, based on political beliefs (but masked as economic, educational, or risk-management concerns). Bob never wavered, and brought the program to fruition in spite of personal attacks and resistance even from his own campus Dean. His efforts have allowed 20+ American community college students to glimpse the real world outside of the US media hologram, probably changing their lives for the better forever.
Semester at Sea
Semester at Sea, in partnership with the Unreasonable Institute, has launched the “Unreasonable at Sea” project on the Spring 2013 voyage. Unreasonable at Sea is an international accelerator for tech entrepreneurs that will enable Semester at Sea students to study entrepreneurship while tackling the world’s most pressing issues with those who are actually doing the work. Participants will have the opportunity to sail, work, and learn from some of the world’s most renowned innovators and mentors.
SIT Study Abroad
Since its launch in the spring of 2012, SIT’s Morocco: Field Studies in Journalism and New Media program has provided students with on-the-ground field experience in journalism. In its short tenure, SIT students on the program have had their work published in major media outlets such as The New York Times, GlobalPost, Outside Magazine, and Runner’s World.
This study abroad program provides students a unique opportunity to enhance their professional reporting skills under the supervision of veteran journalists. Based in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, students engage in ongoing reporting assignments, team reporting, and peer editing to create the feel of a working newsroom. Instruction accommodates work in students’ preferred media format – print, video, audio, photography, and/or multimedia. Students learn from leading Moroccan scholars and academics about all aspects of Moroccan society, politics, and cultures.
The focus of the program is on gathering, analyzing, and crafting a major feature story, which has the possibility of being placed in a US media outlet. The program briefly reviews the basics of doing journalism but is primarily an opportunity for students to practice doing journalism in the field in a different cultural context. Student feature stories—produced during the program’s Independent Study period—are considered for publication (print, broadcast, or online) under the student’s byline.
The program is being run in partnership with Mary Stucky, co-founder of and lead journalist at Round Earth Media, one of the most successful and highly respected news organizations in media. Mary Stucky has vast experience mentoring young, independent reporters. SIT students receive hands-on mentorship from Round Earth Media reporters, as well as prominent Moroccan journalists.
University of South Carolina
In support of the University’s strategic plan, USC Study Abroad launched the International Perspectives on Higher Education faculty/staff study abroad program. Eleven faculty, staff and administrators took part in a week-long program that included guest lectures and visits to study abroad sites in Spain and France. Participants were charged with developing follow-on projects that would allow them to bring their experiences back to campus.
“My goal was to provide participants with the opportunity to live the student study abroad experience, to be a part of a faculty-led program themselves, and to see where students live, go to class, and intern. We encouraged them to reflect on what they were experiencing, and challenged them to think about how it was impacting them personally and professionally.” – Jennifer Engel, program director.
As a result of the program:
- Three USC employees left the country for the first time.
- Multiple curriculum integration, course and program development projects were initiated.
- Academic advisors adjusted their advisement strategies to increase access and help students connect their coursework, international experiences and future careers.
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