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Mapping Study Abroad to the Major

November 17, 2014

Faculty, Staff, and Students:

In the March 3, 2014 Provost’s eNews, I shared with you the many efforts underway to make KU an international community — a responsibility we embrace at KU as a flagship university preparing our students to be global citizens.  This year, more than 2,280 students from approximately 100 countries will study at KU, enlivening campus with a richness of cultures and diversity of thought.  We hope to double that student number over the coming four years.

Another way we establish KU as an international community is through our students’ participation in study abroad.  Over 22% of our undergraduate students have an international experience through Study Abroad prior to graduating from KU, and one-third of those students go abroad for a semester or longer.  Study abroad not only offers students an outstanding academic experience, it provides them with unique professional preparation and tremendous personal development.  Those who participate often say that the experience was life-changing — helping them get to know themselves, their host countries, and their home cultures.  Upon return to campus, these students enrich our classrooms and our communities and support our efforts in internationalizing the KU campus. 

Last spring, the KU Office of Study Abroad announced that KU would take up the challenge of increasing undergraduate participation in study abroad to 30 percent in the next five years.  Partnering with the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad Initiative, KU joined 200+ colleges and universities across the United States seeking to double nationally the number of undergraduate students who participate in international academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning, and research.

I am pleased to share with you the launch of “Mapping Study Abroad to the Major,” an ambitious plan for curriculum integration developed by the Office of Study Abroad to achieve significant growth in undergraduate international experiential learning.  It is designed as a collaborative initiative between each of KU’s academic departments and the Office of Study Abroad (OSA) to fully integrate study abroad programs into the college experience and the degree plans for students across the university.  Year 1 of this plan can be viewed on the Office of Study Abroad website.  

As the outcomes of this plan take shape, students will be able to align their academic program and international experiences more closely, connecting to the goals of the KU Core (learning outcome 2 for goal 4).  Benefits to students include

  • A clear understanding of the multiple ways that they may participate in international study, research, or internships.
  • Progress toward degree.  Through programs that have been reviewed and articulated specifically for their degree, students may participate in longer-duration study abroad while taking their major courses and remaining on track to a timely graduation.
  • Affordable opportunities for a semester abroad.  Through many bilateral exchange and consortia programs, students may study abroad for a semester at rates comparable to those of KU.  Significant funding opportunities also support semester-long study abroad.
  • early planning.  With major-specific study abroad resources, students can start planning during their freshman year (or even before arriving at KU!) for their study abroad, including a full semester abroad, perhaps during their sophomore or junior years.

The benefits to academic units are several:

  • The intentional identification and development of international programs for students that support the learning outcomes of the degree.
  • Assurance that the study abroad programs are of high quality and will lead to the timely graduation of their students.
  • Ability to build upon existing departmental and institutional relationships and expand these connections to incorporate student programs.  
  • Development of new partnerships abroad that fit with curricular goals, articulate to specific semesters within a degree plan, and provide unique co-curricular opportunities to students, such as research, service, and internships.
  • Enhanced outreach and promotion of international opportunities to their students.  

 Bits and Bytes

  • Please familiarize yourself with the KU Ebola and travel policy update, especially if you have travel planned overseas.
  • Human Resources Management has a new web page!  In order to provide the most useful information, we will frequently update the pages based upon your feedback.  Your comments are both expected and appreciated.  There are multiple ways to send your feedback via the web site.
  • The National Academies is pleased to announce a call for nominations and applications for the 2015 Jefferson Science Fellows program. The Jefferson Science Fellowship is open to tenured (or similarly ranked) faculty from U.S. institutions of higher learning who are U.S. citizens. The application period closes in mid-January. Selected fellows spend one year on assignment at the U.S. Department of State or USAID as science advisors on foreign policy issues.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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