Towson University has joined the Institute of International Education (IIE)’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to increase the diversity and number of American students who study abroad. The initiative looks to increase the diversity of students who study abroad, remove barriers to participation and ensure quality experiences. Towson University has committed to increase the number of its students who study abroad by 40 percent by the end of the decade.
Towson University joins more than 240 higher education institutions throughout the nation participating in Generation Study Abroad.
“Towson University is pleased to be part of this Generation Study Abroad initiative and excited about the opportunities it will create for our students,” said Towson University Acting President Dr. Timothy Chandler. “Increasing the numbers of Towson students who will study abroad by 40 percent over the next six years is an ambitious goal, and it will serve as an important component of the university’s overall plan to expand our international and global initiatives. We wholeheartedly support this initiative because we believe it will help to create a generation of young people who will leave Towson ready to make a positive difference in the world.”
The Towson Study Abroad Office has identified several pathways to achieve its goal of increasing participation in its program, including the following:
- Curriculum integration. In addition to working with departments across campus to identify courses suitable for different areas of study, Towson seeks to develop a Global Perspectives certificate program; create a semester-long preparatory course on global citizenship; and continue collaborations with faculty and advisors to educate the campus community about study abroad.
- Funding and scholarship. One of the top concerns of Towson students is funding and financial aid to support experiences abroad. In addition to other internationally focused projects, Towson aims to raise funds to support a new ‘Generation Study Abroad’ scholarship for underrepresented, incoming first-year students. The scholarship could be applied to an approved study abroad experience at any time during a student’s undergraduate career.
- Access and diversification. Towson is eager to diversify its offerings overseas as well as the experiences of its graduates. These efforts involve increasing outreach to students who are underrepresented in study abroad (low-income students, first generation students, minorities, athletes) and evaluating the type of experiences offered (internships and research opportunities) as well as the locations.
“Through this initiative we can ensure that we can increase the diversity of under-represented students participating in the study abroad programs by offering the diverse selection of traditional and non-traditional sites, scholarship opportunities, study, research and internship abroad and short and long term international learning experience,” said Saleha Suleman, assistant vice president of international initiatives.
Suleman joined Towson in July and is charged with carrying out the university’s commitment to international education.
According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange released by IIE last November, 295,000 students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation in study abroad so that the annual total reported will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade.
For more information on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, and a complete list of commitment partners, go to: www.iie.org/gen.erationstudyabroad.