Experiential Education & Study Abroad: The Necessity for Pre-Program Course Development and Implementation
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Type of Work92 p.
ProgramMA in Cultural Sustainability
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SubjectsForeign study -- College students.
Cross-cultural education -- College students.
Foreign study -- Preparedness.
Cultural sustainability -- Capstone (Graduate)
In today's globalized world, it has become increasingly important for people to connect across continents and oceans and between cultures and communities. These connections are critical to the development and success of businesses, non-profit organizations, governments, conservation efforts, cultural survival and sustaining relationships between people. In light of this, it is imperative that young people in particular are given the means to directly experience different cultural lifeways in order to develop (inter)cultural competencies and a sense of global citizenship. My central argument in the thesis will be that while the traditional "study abroad" program remains the best avenue for gaining such competency, sustained and rigorous preparation of students is imperative to both ensure the subsequent success of the overseas experience and sustain the effects on students in their post-matriculation years. I start with the premise that studying abroad has long been an essential component of higher education insofar as it provides students with the opportunity for cross-cultural exchange, exposure to diverse global perspectives, developing language skills, learning effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and gaining independence and maturity. I base my arguments on a concentrated review of research literature on the topic and drawing on my experiences as an international educator and former study abroad student. I then address a significant gap in study abroad programs which I identify as the absence of means and methods to foster action and critical reflection on the part of students in such programs. My intervention in this arena centers on the claim that study abroad programs must include, and be preceded by, a grounding in and critical engagement with the concepts, aims and goals of cultural sustainability. Accordingly, a key component of this document is a model syllabus that I have developed for an intensive college-level course for study abroad participants. It is entitled "Cross-Cultural Preparation for Study Abroad" and it aims to introduce students to concepts of cultural sustainability and global awareness, among other such topics. This course will greatly enhance students' educational experiences by providing them with training and strategies to immerse themselves in and accommodate to distinctly different cultural settings abroad.