New study abroad programs target non-Weinberg students

Rani Gupta

The Study Abroad Office launched five programs this year aimed at providing pre-professional and engineering students more opportunities to study overseas.

The new programs seek to give students not focusing on language or liberal arts the chance to gain an international perspective.

Three of the new summer programs address the changing legal, political, social and economic structures of China, Mexico and Northern Europe. A Paris program called “European Union Studies” started this quarter.

The new programs coincide with a rise in enrollment in the study abroad program. Study Abroad Director Bill Anthony expects 450 students to study abroad this year, up from 350 last year.

About 430 students attended a recent study abroad fair. And Anthony said the required Study Abroad 101 classes are so full that students are sitting on the floor.

Anthony expects the events of Sept. 11 to have little effect on next year’s applications, although he advises against visiting Israel.

“Safety abroad is always an important issue, but what I’m hearing from study abroad conferences is that applications are up,” he said. “Interest in study abroad is stronger than ever.”

Anthony said the recent programs reflect the office’s efforts to attract students outside the Weinberg College of Arts and Science. Weinberg students now account for about 65 percent of those studying abroad.

“When you’ve got a top-notch school of journalism and a top-notch school of music, your top priority isn’t necessarily to leave that school,” Anthony said. “But I don’t think there’s a single profession that couldn’t benefit from time abroad.”

Devora Grynspan, assistant dean of international and area studies, said faculty members created the new programs primarily for premed, pre-law and pre-business students who might not have been interested by the usual humanities and language-based international classes.

Most of the new programs take place in the summer because the schedules of engineering and pre-professional students usually do allow them be away for a quarter, Grynspan said.

Summer programs also have no language prerequisite because many of those students cannot fulfill the two-year language requirement. Instead, students will take language-intensive courses along with classes in English.

Faculty-developed classes of topical importance are in locations like China, Mexico and France because of their “strategic and economic importance” to the United States, Grynspan said.

One program, for example, is set to launch in Mexico City in the summer, and is part of a campuswide program on international public health partly sponsored by a $445,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Mexico City program is geared toward people who likely will enter medical or legal fields, but the students also will study how non-medical factors impact medical treatment.

“If we don’t understand the cultural, legal and economic issues surrounding AIDS, how can we cure AIDS worldwide?” Grynspan said. “The way you combat AIDS in San Francisco is not the same way you combat AIDS in Uganda.”

The four-year Department of Defense grant is part of an initiative supporting international education. The program also will receive about $100,000 in state matching funds, Grynspan said.

Program coordinators will use the grant money for study abroad fellowships, a speaker series and an annual conference. Grynspan said they also hope to develop public health programs in Cuba and South Africa.