After more than 40 years, IU remains a leader in sending students abroad

A friend of Emily Potts captured this moment of the IUPUI student walking in the Amazon region of Ecuador, where she and her classmates were studying its animals and bio-diversity of the rainforest.

A friend of Emily Potts captured this moment of the IUPUI student walking in the Amazon region of Ecuador, where she and her classmates were studying its animals and bio-diversity of the rainforest.

This is the 15th year that International Education Week has been celebrated at universities, schools and libraries across the country. The annual celebration highlights the benefits of American students going abroad, the value of international students and other exchanges.

Over the last 15 years, the overall number of Americans studying abroad for college credit has more than doubled, according to the Institute of International Education.

But as this joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is halfway through its second decade, study abroad at Indiana University is into its fifth decade.

Earlier this year, the IU Office of Overseas Study published a remembrance, “The 40th Anniversary Retrospective: Overseas Study at Indiana University.”

Co-edited by Kathleen Sideli, associate vice president for overseas study, and Walter Nugent, the office’s founding director and professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame, the book tells the story from the beginning. It reveals how the first international locations and partners were chosen and how the university worked to facilitate student access and participation.

While study abroad today is considered a high impact educational activity that students expect from a college experience, the book’s eight authors show how unique such opportunities were just a few decades ago. Participation went from 100 students a year to more than 3,000 students today.

The contributors “have portrayed how a university in the Midwest of the United States has opened the world for its students and they point to a future in which increasing numbers of undergraduates will want to be part of an interdependent world,” said Patrick O’Meara, vice president emeritus of international affairs and currently special advisor to IU President Michael McRobbie.

Students observe Korean Tea ceremony, traditional culture and manners. (Photo by Cassandra Harner)

Students observe Korean Tea ceremony, traditional culture and manners. (Photo by Cassandra Harner)

More than 40,000 IU students have been sent abroad by the IU Office of Overseas Study since the office was established in 1972. Today, IU Bloomington remains a national leader in international education and again has been ranked by IIE among the top 10 in terms of students studying abroad.

“It is exciting to see students from a wider variety of majors than ever participate in study abroad programs, ” Sideli observed. “They represent disciplines as diverse as electronic music composition, athletics healthcare, arts management, sustainability, microfinance and informatics.”

On the IU Bloomington campus, 25 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree have had at least on international credit-bearing experience, she said.

While Western Europe remains the most sought study-abroad destination, more IU students are going to China, Japan, India, Indonesia and South Korea, and reflect a broader trend.

At each campus, the university encourages study abroad through revised degree requirements that provide students with more ways to use their overseas experiences to maintain progress toward graduation. Alumni and university endowments have been earmarked to specifically defray expenses for those studying abroad.

The School of Public Health sends students to Asia to study comparative health care. Students in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs go to Paris and learn about arts management. The Kelley School of Business’ global immersion courses involve travel to eight countries.

IU Media School students traveled to Uganda, to study the effect of AIDS on Africa.

IU Media School students traveled to Uganda, to study the effect of AIDS on Africa.

Students in the Media School literally follow in the footsteps of IU alumnus and famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Others in the Media School traveled to Uganda for an in-depth reporting project.

Composition students in electronic music from the IU Jacobs School of Music travel to Paris and the ManiFESTE Music Festival.

At IUPUI, students are engaged in a service-learning project in Swaziland. IU Kokomo nursing students have gone to South Korea. IU Southeast students apply their geography studies in Costa Rica.

Sideli noted that IU is strongly ranked across all three duration periods — eighth for semester students, 11th for academic year students and 15th for summer/short-term programs which indicates a balanced distribution of students across programs of different lengths.

IU’s rich history of bringing the world to Indiana and bringing the world to its students is a story worth reading. All royalties from the sale of “The 40th Anniversary Retrospective: Overseas Study at Indiana University” — available at Amazon.com — will go to a scholarship fund for IU students who want to study abroad.

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