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Faculty-led programs: expanding global citizenship

By GIA Center

Imagine exploring global perspectives in engineering design in Florence, the home of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, or studying British literature while hearing Big Ben chiming. Perhaps you’ve considered how impactful it might be to study the history of Black women while experiencing the culture of Ghana, or brushing up on your Spanish in a language immersion in Chile? These possibilities might seem far-flung, but they’re more accessible than you might think.  

Faculty-Led education abroad and away Programs (or FLPs) at the University of Dayton are credit-bearing experiences abroad. These experiences are offered in locations all over the world and at various times of the year (winter, spring break, and summer) and can vary from one to six weeks in length. They’re a unique opportunity to be exposed to new cultures and build intercultural skills in a familiar format: led by the experienced instruction and support of UD faculty. Students can enroll in UD courses for credit, and see course content come alive in new ways when surrounded by the culture, history, and language of the locations abroad. 

We asked the Education Abroad and Away staff to tell us a little about FLPs in 2023 and how they have changed over the past several years since the pandemic halted most international travel. Zoe Krzywda, Senior Program Coordinator, says, “Our faculty-led programs participation is back in full swing! Our participation numbers are back to what they were pre-pandemic and we have more diverse program offerings than ever before.” She notes that this year, her office will send more than 275 students abroad on an FLP, ranging in location from Spain, Japan, and Chile to Korea and Ireland.  

One development is some changes in how the office is supporting students with their pre-departure programming. A strength of FLPs is the support and preparation provided by the staff in the Office of Education Abroad and Away. Part of this preparation is their 1-credit mini-course, AGILE (Applied Global and Intercultural Learning Experience). In this series of sessions, students focus on what it means to be a global citizen in three aspects: Global Citizen as Self, Global Citizen as Community Member, and Global Citizen as Earthling. Erin Gahimer, Senior Program Coordinator, notes that this newly-revamped curriculum works to introduce students to important themes in study abroad: “AGILE covers themes in International & Intercultural Development, Ethical Community Engagement and Social Justice, and Environmental Sustainability in the context of international travel,” she says, “Through this programming, UD is hoping to equip students to take on the responsibility that comes with being an international traveler and, therefore, to become a new member of the global community.”

Students choose to participate in FLPs for a number of reasons, but many report that they feel a greater comfort level in traveling with fellow UD students and faculty, especially for their initial study abroad experiences. FLPs are also a good option for students who can’t dedicate an entire semester to being off-campus abroad due to cost, outside commitments such as athletics, or other barriers.  FLPs additionally can allow students to catch up on course work outside of a regular semester.

Gahimer notes that certain FLPs are always popular: “Our business programs to our Western European locations have consistently high enrollment and will often go to a waitlist, particularly our Business in Spain and our Business in Rome programs.” However, she encourages students to consider ‘the road less traveled’: “Students who venture to more non-traditional locations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa often return with very unique experiences from their student counterparts who participated in programs in Europe,” she says. “Several years ago, a Health & Sport Science group that went to Chile consistently reported feeling proud to have had such a unique experience compared to their peers who traveled to other regions.”

Many faculty members report that these opportunities to teach abroad are a great benefit to them, as leading an FLP contributes to their own professional development as instructors and as researchers. Some faculty are able to share their expertise of a country and/or subject matter and are able to connect students and programming with their research and partners abroad. Through FLPs, both faculty and students can engage in international and intercultural learning and have opportunities for growth. Maria Vivero, a faculty member in Finance who has led multiple FLPs, says, “I think it’s important to develop intercultural skills in students because it is essential for their future as conscientious citizens, for their life as members of the human race, part of a society that gathers people from multiple backgrounds, and as future professionals.” 

Connecting across the world builds understanding of the impacts of travel on environmental sustainability, ethical community engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion. An added outcome of faculty-led programs is new and strengthened relationships with peers and faculty at UD and around the world. 

A full list of FLPs can be found on Studio Abroad. Contact the Office of Education Abroad and Away for more information or to schedule an appointment with an advisor. 

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