Study abroad options expand for honor students

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Get out of the bubble.

That is Dr. Diane Snow’s, dean of the John V. Roach Honors College, goal for students. She wants to see more students in and outside of the honors college study abroad. Snow, along with other faculty members, are implementing more options for honors students to study abroad.

“We are trying to put together a wide variety and selection of academic experiences that involve going abroad or going to new places,” Snow said. “We are developing up a buffet or smorgasbord or a wide selection and they will all be under the guise of honors abroad, even if they are not over the ocean.”

These options include two new programs Snow is planning, to Washington D.C. and England.

While Washington D.C. is not over an ocean, Snow said it can still provide a different experience for students. The program will run for a month over the summer and will focus on how our capital works.

“There will be four faculty members from TCU, each teaching one week for a four-week program,” Snow said. “Given our political climate right now, I think it is really important for students to understand how politics work, how government works, how persuasion works, how do things get done and not done in Congress for example.”

Snow is also bringing over a program from her previous institution, the University of Kentucky, called “Where Are All the Women?” The program first started as a domestic course looking at the attrition of women in STEM fields and sciences.

“Every time we had a discussion someone would say, ‘Is it only like this in the U.S. or is it like this all over the world?’ as we were learning statistics, patterns and things,” Snow said. “Finally I just said this question comes up so much, why don’t we turn this into a European course and find out.”

Last time Snow taught the course, the program had all kinds of guests and visitors for the students.  The guest speakers were there for the students to interact with and talk to.

“We had lots of exposure to what it is like there,” Snow said. “The students had to do interviews and pick one particular thing about this dilemma that they were interested in, do a presentation on it and then the final is to commit to one thing they would do to make the world a better place for women in science. They were all very creative and had to all be different.”

Snow is also keeping the three study abroad programs already in the John V. Roach Honors College: Cultural Routes, Cultural Pathways and Cultural Pilgrimages.

Cultural Routes is a program run by Dr. Ron Pitcock for the past 10 years. Snow explains it as a “tried and true” study abroad program. In the summer of 2017, Pitcock took first-year honors students to Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

“Dr. Pitcock has put together a really deep and meaningful experience for students to engage in the culture in each of those countries,” Snow said.  “I am very happy with that course.”

Cultural Pathways is run by Dr. Beata Jones. In the summer of 2017, Jones and honors students went to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The Cultural Pilgrimages program takes a look at Europe from a different point of view. Students, led by Dr. Elizabeth Flowers and Dr. Darren Middleton, take a look at why various groups of people make pilgrimages. In the summer of 2016, the group went to Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Belfast, Northern Ireland and London, England.

 

Snow sees the importance and value in studying abroad but realizes some programs and majors here at TCU hinder a student’s ability to explore and experience new places.

“One of my major goals as dean of the John V. Roach Honors College is to provide high-impact practices that catapult learning to a new height – one of those practices is education abroad,” Snow said. “I hope to be able to claim someday that 100 percent of our honors students have had significant exposure to new cultures and have developed a broader worldview.”

Junior psychology major Hope Bentley studied abroad in Scandinavia in summer 2017. One of the best parts about studying abroad for her is the other students she met.

“I made really great friends, and we became a kind of close you can only get by spending weeks in a foreign country together,” Bentley said. “The value in studying abroad for students is getting to see how other people live life. It exposes you to a different way of thinking and forces you out of your comfort zone.”

There are many programs offered outside of the honors explorations program. TCU has flagship programs in five different cities, but many approved programs in other countries. All the programs are run through the Center for International Studies.

“It is difficult to summarize in just a few words the benefits of studying abroad – we know from our past students that it provides an incredible opportunity for both personal and professional growth,” Dr. Sandra Callaghan, director of the Center for International Studies said. “Studying abroad challenges students to think deeply about who they are as a global citizen. We hear from students who have studied abroad that they were pushed to consider their own values and cultural biases.”

Snow said studying abroad can help students achieve the mission statement of TCU.

“While one can learn from teachers and texts, the best way to learn to become a ‘responsible citizen in a global community’ is to place oneself in the actual environment and see the world through the lenses of the people,” Snow said.