IIE Networker - Fall 2006 - (Page 49)

Knowledge Network Freshman Study Abroad LIFE Abroad By Lisa Chieffo and Lesa Griffiths A Unique Model for Study Abroad The University of Delaware (UD) has a long tradition of international education. The first UD Foreign Study Group, comprised of eight UD students, sailed from New York for Paris on July 7, 1923, marking the beginning of the first overseas study program in the United States. More than 80 years later, UD Study Abroad programs number around 70, sending over 1,500 students to more than 35 countries annually. Approximately 80 percent of these students study abroad during UD’s optional January term, or Winter Session, which runs on campus from January 2 or 3 until the second week of February. Over 50 study abroad programs take place during winter session, each directed by one or more UD faculty members who teach courses and organize the programs with assistance and support from staff in the Center for International Studies. The Winter Session is an ideal time for students with little prior travel or international interest to begin exploring the world around them. In addition, the close faculty oversight and highly scheduled itineraries of these month-long programs make them attractive options for first-year students. Prior to 2000, the total number of freshmen who studied abroad annually at UD was about 30. A student survey conducted in 2000 indicated that 40 percent of freshmen intended to study abroad at some point, but many stated that they simply were not ready to do so during their first year. In order to address this “participation gap,” a new type of study abroad experience was launched in January, 2002, in collaboration with the highly successful on-campus LIFE program. In fall of 2000, UD initiated an academic first-year experience called LIFE: Learning Integrated Freshman Experience. The LIFE Program is designed to provide first-year students a small learning community in which they can thrive in the midst of a large undergraduate population. LIFE “clusters” are organized around an interdisciplinary theme, several courses in which participants are co-enrolled, and out-of-class experiences related to those courses and themes. In addition to two common three-credit courses, students take a one-credit, pass/fail seminar together called University 101, First-Year Experience, which requires them to explore a topic relevant to their cluster and produce an appropriate group project. Some clusters are focused on specific majors or careers; others address more general topics. Most clusters include a residential component and house participants on the same floor of a residence hall. Each cluster has a Peer Mentor, an advanced undergraduate student who helps students make the adjustment to the academic life of the university, facilitates UNIV 101, and, in general, ensures seriousness of purpose and academic quality in the cocurricular experiences of the LIFE students. Each cluster also has a LIFE Mentor, a faculty member who provides counsel for the cluster and helps the Peer Mentor and the students explore academic issues related to the cluster theme. Since its inception just six years ago, the LIFE program has grown to one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States. This successful model for building on-campus community for first-year students has proven equally successful when transplanted overseas as part of a UD study abroad program. In order to increase overall participation in study abroad, freshmen, who had already expressed a high interest in overseas study, became a logical target of recruitment efforts. The decision was soon made to design a program open only to freshmen which would address some of their concerns about going abroad so early in their academic careers, Then: IIE-sponsored study abroad students from the University of Delaware, 1927. Now: University of Delaware's LIFE Abroad students at the windmills of Consuegra, Spain, 2005.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2006

IIE Networker - Fall 2006
Message from Allan E. Goodman
Up Front: The International Education Diary
Leading the Way Toward True Global Engagement: A Challenge to American Colleges and Universities
The Lincoln Commission and the Future of Study Abroad
Destination India: Opportunities and Challenges for Expanding Study Abroad in a Nontraditional Location
Heritage-Seeking and Study Abroad: A Case Study
State Department Resources
Short-Term Programming
Community College
GLBT Issues
Branch Campus
Central and Eastern Europe
Freshmen Study Abroad
The Browser: Index of Advertisers

IIE Networker - Fall 2006