This reading, entitled “Turning Our Back On the World” is about study abroad programs in colleges. The author, Riall Nolan of Purdue University, asks three big questions: 1. Why is studying abroad important, 2. Why don’t more students participate, and 3. How can Americans change the number of participants. Nolan reasons that Americans today are living in a diverse new world; everything around us is different, and it’s here to stay. Having “global competence” is a great way to prepare students for the real world. Students who lack the knowledge of cultural diversity will not work effectively, even if they have extensive knowledge of their field. While “out in the swamp,” workers need to be able to deal with more than just concepts and theories of what they do; they deal with people of great diversity, and study abroad programs can help students develop a better understanding of cultural differences.
Faculty and students alike choose to not participate in study abroad programs because they feel that they don’t have the time or the money. The author suggests that these attitudes come from the professors themselves, probably because they would feel uncomfortable putting themselves in a situation with students where they were not the masters of the subject; a foreign country is still foreign to a professor after all. With these attitudes, only 2% of Americans study abroad. The author also addresses why studying abroad is expensive: Off campus providers of study abroad programs are sometimes a lot more expensive so students pay too much just so that administration doesn’t have to go into the detailing of creating their own program.
Great schools in other nations are looking for the best and most intelligent students. The United States needs to add these study abroad programs, or fall behind international schools. While change is happening, it’s not fast enough. In order to see changes in the rates of study abroad programs, 4 things need to happen. These include structural changes (i.e.: internationalizing the curriculum), people who will strongly advocate the cause, a diverse and broad group of supporters, and a steady long-term campaign for change.
I liked this reading a lot (probably because I love traveling). I feel that every student should get the opportunity to study abroad at some point in their college career. While cost is seen as an issue to some, the author provided solutions to this (see above). I also feel that schools should make scholarships available to students who wish to study in other countries. I’m not sure how I feel about schools making this mandatory however. If some students wish to stay in their comfort zone, I feel that is there choice. Making a study abroad program a requirement might be taking it a little too far, but I feel that colleges should take a greater step in making such opportunities available to all students if they want to.