American Institute for Foreign Study Foundation

Host a Foreign Exchange StudentAcademic Year in America

Study Abroad: A 21st Century Perspective - Volume 1

Table of Contents

Preface by Martin Tillman, Editor
Assistant Director, Office of Career Services, The John Hopkins University, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

It's a privilege to have brought together so many authoritative voices to consider key issues in the study abroad field in this new century. Each author brings decades of invaluable expertise and creative professional perspective to their subject. They offer study abroad advisors exceptionally cogent and practical ideas to assist in planning, developing and implementing study abroad programs. I also challenged authors to reflect on lessons learned, identify current successful models, and make recommendations for the future in the field. I am grateful to Bill Gertz and the AIFS Foundation for supporting this timely new publication in their Study Abroad Advisors Guide series.

In the midst of the Cold War, when nuclear war among superpowers was a key foreign policy issue, scientist Lewis Thomas wrote in the Harvard Educational Review (54, 1984): "All individuals are surrounded by a circle of friends and they get along, sometimes amicably, sometimes testily, but they get along, and with a lot of cooperation. All the members of that circle of friends have their own circles, and I think it goes on in concentric circles for everyone. But it stops at national borders—we haven't discovered how to make that work". This is a sentiment transcending its political era, one which anyone currently involved in academic study abroad or engaged in intercultural education at any age level, takes to heart every day as they prepare to send American students abroad. We are all eternal optimists! We want to make a difference in the world and help "make that work"...

There is much progress to cheer as we begin the 21st century; numbers alone (as cited in Open Doors, Institute of International Education, 1998-99) are reason for hope: over the past 12 years, the number of U.S. students receiving academic credit for study abroad has more than doubled, from 49,000 to 114,000 in 1997-98. And there is the continued growth (harder to document with factual statistics) in the educational exchange community which impacts citizens - not only students—of a much broader age-range. At the same time, there are numerous unfinished agendas—addressed in this volume, including building greater (racial and socio-economic) diversity in study abroad programs; increasing opportunities for study outside the European Community; finding new sources of funding; and widening support among faculty.

Perhaps the most important new development impacting the international education community is the spate of recent partnerships between the private sector and the higher education community. Spurred by the global economy and the need for a workforce prepared for the technological challenges in new global industries, business leaders are more engaged than ever with educational institutions. In part, this is no doubt also due to the growing recognition that international educational activities are a major force affecting state economies.

In one such public-private sector effort, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, in 1997, formed a statewide Taskforce on International Education (details in February/March 2000 issue of the Clearinghouse on State International Policies, (published by the Southern Growth Policies Board, edited by NAFSA Board Member Carol Conway, phone 919-941-5145).

The goal was "to study our international education programs to ensure that young people throughout Wisconsin are properly trained and prepared to become the first truly global generation." The Taskforce addressed the need to strengthen the study abroad field by calling for both increased diversity and also greater direct support from the business community.

A Wisconsin International Scholars Program was created using state general-purpose funds to provide grants of $1,000 to, among others, "economically disadvantaged post-secondary students." Also proposed as an incentive to business was a $1000 tax credit for each student they sponsored to participate in an overseas internship program. One outcome of the report was passage of a legislative bill allocating $1.5 million for need-based study abroad scholarships for University of Wisconsin undergraduates.

In the 21st century, study abroad advisors, along with all international educators, face new challenges in a world inextricably linked as never before by new communication technologies. As John Sommer states in his conclusion for this volume, ...the imperatives for considering the whole world as a stage for study abroad are just that - imperative for realizing a world of peace, justice, sustainable development, and prosperity, and for enriching our own social and cultural lives and those of our fellow humans.

Next article: The Contribution of International Educational Exchange to the International Education of Americans: My 1990 Forecasts Revisited by Barbara Burn

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