Many students come to college with the hopes of studying abroad and Lewis College of Human Sciences is making it easier for them to do so. This summer, the college launched its first faculty-led summer study abroad program in July. Organized by Rebecca Steffenson, industry associate professor of political science, and Carly Kocurek, assistant professor of digital humanities and media studies, the inaugural program brought Illinois Institute of Technology students to the University of Stirling in Scotland from July 11-August 8.
According to the Association of International Educators (NAFSA), more than 304,000 U.S. students studied abroad during the 2013-14 academic year. Studying abroad provides students with tremendous educational and professional benefits beyond the classroom. International experiences also help students better understand their own cultural values and biases, and gain a better understanding of what it means to be global citizens.
“I spent several years abroad as a student and know how valuable these types of opportunities can be for students,” Steffenson explained. “Our goal is to increase the percentage of Lewis College students who study abroad and faculty-led programs can make it easier. Since this is an Illinois Tech program, many students can apply their scholarships and financial aid towards the program, making it more affordable.”
Open to all undergraduates regardless of their major, the three-week program offered two courses that count towards the university’s core requirements. This summer’s program focused on and introduction to Scottish politics, with an emphasis on how Scotland fits politically in the United Kingdom and European Union, and transnational cinema. Classes were held three days a week, with one of those days reserved for daytrips to places such the Scottish Parliament, Museum of Modern Art, and Stirling Castle. The students lived in a dorm with other international students studying in Scotland and had plenty of time for independent travel.
When asked about the study abroad program, Catherine Cusak (PS 4th year) said, “This summer studying in Scotland was a life changing experience. I was exposed to the different political aspects of Scotland and learned through interactive excursions, like the trip to the Scottish Parliament and the historical tour of the Wallace Monument. I hope to be able to go again someday.”