Short-term study abroad programs (summer, January term, or eight weeks and less during the academic year) are the most popular among college students. In fact, fifty-six percent of US college students choose short-term study abroad over mid-term and long-term options (IIE Open Doors 2009 Fast Facts). While it is unknown exactly how many students participate in faculty-led study abroad, some studies suggest it is about seventy percent of all those who participate in short-term programs.
Faculty-led study abroad programs are most certainly on the rise. I’m amazed at the number of third-party providers who are now customizing programs for faculty-led groups and the sheer number of faculty-led programs available. Below are just a few reasons why I think colleges and universities should put more time and resources into preparing their faculty to lead study abroad.
::Faculty-led study abroad programs internationalize US higher education and faculty.
::Students have an opportunity to study under their professors and other academics more closely than they otherwise would on-campus.
::Faculty-led study abroad programs can be well equipped to handle risk, as well health/safety concerns.
::Faculty-led study abroad programs help students to get their feet wet in the world and peak their interest for future travel.
::College professors have the opportunity to teach specialized courses related to their academic and research interests.
::Faculty-led study abroad expands the breadth and depth of learning, by offering students the chance to take specialized courses, drawing upon the unique attributes of education abroad and increasing its academic quality.
::Universities can diversify and enrich US higher education, by enabling faculty-student relationships around the nation and world, broadening education and networking more globally.
::Faculty-led study abroad is equipped to handle large numbers of students, widely dispersed all over the world.
Submitted by Wendy Williamson, Director of Study Abroad, Eastern Illinois University