It can feel good to celebrate study abroad successes in a time when fears about traveling abroad are widespread. It is also encouraging to know that college and universities continue to be intentional and strategic in their drive to ensure more of their students are able to study abroad. On that note, we are pleased to congratulate one of the universities Seminars works with regularly and who is a 2015 recipient of NAFSA’s Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization: North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. North Central is a small college, yet one who has marshaled resources and staff in order to internationalize their campus, curriculum, faculty, staff, and students.
The program Seminars coordinates with North Central is D-term–a three-week term in December, after fall quarter finishes yet before the Christmas holidays. NCC has taken advantage of their academic calendar to offer faculty-led courses during this term. Seminars has been pleased to work with them on two to four D-term programs per year over the years. In 2015, they offered eleven D-term courses abroad. With a student population of 3,000, this is an impressive variety!
A strength of North Central’s D-term courses is that they have become, in the words of Prof. William Muck, “more ‘professionalized.'”* Instead of permitting faculty to “pitch an idea and say, ‘I’d like to take a group of students here’, . . . faculty must propose courses a year in advance, submit syllabi, and go through a rigorous academic review process.” Academically serious short-term courses are a hallmark of a high-quality education abroad program, and are essential to true global learning. Jack Shindler, the long-time director of international programs clearly understands that, as he has, in his words, “‘nudged’ the college to look outward.”
High-quality academics and true global learning must be a top priority–particularly when we remember that over 60% of US students are studying abroad on short-term programs. When a student’s only experience studying abroad is a faculty-led short-term course, let’s be glad NAFSA is recognizing colleges like North Central who are working to ensure that experience is the best it can be.
NCC is special to Seminars International, as our founder, George St. Angelo was their chaplain many years ago. Once George led students abroad, he realized the importance of experiential learning and understood the educational impact of using the world as a classroom.
*To read more about NCC, order the full report on NAFSA’s 2015 Paul Simon Awardees.