Stephen Shewmaker, Director of the Study Abroad Office, shared some valuable insights about studying abroad in general and specifically, ACU’s Study Abroad program.
In Milton Bennett’s Cultural Competency Model one strives to move from an ethnocentric view to ethnorelative view. In a long study abroad, students and faculty move through the various stages of Bennett’s Model together. This is one of the goals of ACU’s Study Abroad program.
Another goal comes from Sanford’s Theory of Challenge and Support. This theory asserts that when students receive the appropriate amount of support and challenge (not too much or too little), their experience is more positive. The on sight directors are helpful to the Study Abroad faculty to navigate this well with students and themselves.
From a Christian perspective, the experience of Study Abroad is a journey or pilgrimage. This focus is better suited than one of consumer even though the actual experiences students “consume” are life-changing and rich. The value is also in community. The students who are on the trip together become a community in the deepest sense of the word. They become friends for life.
The ACU program values academic rigor (highly interdisciplinary, language learning), community connection (internal and external), spiritual development, and diversity of location (regions, level of challenge).
There are challenges to student participation. The most frequently cited are cost, curricular, and campus culture. Efforts are being made to provide students with scholarship opportunities to help make studying abroad more affordable. Sometimes students struggle to figure out how to make study abroad work for their curricular needs. One of the best ways to promote study abroad is word of mouth. Students who study abroad come back and share about their experiences which increases the campus culture of studying abroad as something all students should consider.
Please reach out to Stephen or his staff for more information about the programs. There are many opportunities that he would love to discuss with you if you’ve considered study abroad as a faculty member. Here are some of the opportunities:
Faculty in semester programs
Specialized or focused semester programs
Increase diversity of student participants
Internships (summer or semester)
Also, check out the Study Abroad site.