Students with busy schedules at GW are making time for shorter trips abroad.
The University’s Director of Study Abroad Rob Hallworth said he’s seen an increase in the number of proposals for faculty-led, short-term study abroad courses over the past year as more students take advantage of their professors’ international connections.
The change could encourage a larger percentage of GW students to study abroad, an important statistic that schools tout to prospective students and one GW officials have prioritized as part of the University’s strategic plan.
Many of the trips are part of semester-long courses where students spend a week or two weeks in another country with their professor and classmates.
Last semester, GW offered three courses that included short-term trips, and 15 were offered this summer. Last fall, the Office of Study Abroad did not offer any short-term abroad courses.
Hallworth said short-term abroad programs give students who may not have the opportunity to be away for a semester or year the chance to work with professors on research in an international setting.
“They offer a way for students to work with GW faculty in a uniquely engaged setting. Often, students get a glimpse into their faculty member’s research interests and international network of colleagues and partner institutions,” Hallworth said in an email.
GW has five campuses in other countries where students can study through semester-long and year-long programs as well as longer programs through other approved universities. But these short-term programs take advantage of professors’ narrow fields of study and connections, Hallworth said.
He added that the addition of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design also contributed to the rise in demand this year.
Media and public affairs professor Lee Huebner has taught a spring-semester course on media globalization for the last 10 years and takes his students to Paris. He said he has seen the “mind-expanding” benefits of studying abroad while saving students money and time.
“The short-term program allows students to get the exciting taste of the wider world at a reasonable cost and getting to earn academic credit while still being full-time on campus,” Huebner said.
During their trip, Huebner, who spent 14 years as the president and CEO of the then-titled International Herald Tribune, said students attend seminars led by writers and media producers from around the world while also using free time to explore the city. He said his students also often decide to pursue a longer study abroad option after the short-term program.
Mary Beth Stein, a history professor, said the study abroad component of her course — “Berlin Before and After the Wall” — has given her “the only way” to accurately teach students about the city of Berlin.
“There is nothing comparable to touring a World War II bunker, visiting museums and memorials or touching remains of the Berlin Wall in person and up close,” Stein said.
She said functioning through the Office of Study Abroad has given her practical resources for her course to function better for herself and students, including pre-departure sessions for students and insurance for faculty and students.
This article appeared in the June 9, 2015 issue of the Hatchet.