Dickinson Matters: For the Global Good

Nancy Roseman

Nancy Roseman

Study abroad is often the most defining of a Dickinsonian’s college experience, and providing opportunities for more students to share in global exchange is at the heart of our educational mission.

by Nancy A. Roseman, president 

As Dickinsonians, we are proud of many things, but I think it’s safe to say that our approach to global education would be at or near the top of the list. This past summer I visited one of our signature programs, the William G. and Elke Durden Bremen Program in Germany, to celebrate 30 years of partnership with the University of Bremen. It was a wonderful and moving celebration, as Dickinsonians across Europe and Bremen students who had studied in Carlisle gathered together to reminisce and to reaffirm a friendship that is deeply important to both of us.

I also spent some time with our colleagues at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen, one of our partner programs. A significant number of our students attend DIS, and I came away impressed by its  academic rigor, excellent facilities and thoughtful use of experiential learning.

In both cases, I was struck by their deep commitment to immersing students in their academic work and in their exploration and understanding of a culture not their own. With nearly 60 percent of our students participating in one of our 15 Dickinson programs or 22 partner programs, we have to be vigilant that the quality of each program meets our high standards. We ensure that our collaboration with host institutions is deep and thoughtfully coordinated. In fact, many of these programs are led by Dickinson faculty—either as resident or rotating directors—who work continually to enhance our students’ immersive experiences in and out of the classroom.

While education abroad is one of many paths Dickinsonians may travel during their undergraduate careers, in taking that path, they open themselves up to a truly transformative experience. Without question, they will never be the same, and their life’s journey will have more possibilities available to them. For students who remain on campus for their four years, we are intentional in developing meaningful ways for them to engage with international and intercultural learning and experiences from the moment they arrive on campus. We embrace the challenge of helping students find their voices as citizens of a globalized world, whether in Carlisle or elsewhere.

Enhancing cultural awareness and problem-solving skills are key learning outcomes of the education abroad experience, enabling our students to see the world from multiple perspectives. Perhaps more important, there is something about the experience of living and studying abroad that allows students to examine—critically and appreciatively—the boundaries of their own respective communities and collective nation. Our  responsibility is to be a vehicle for students on this intellectual and experiential journey, and I am proud to say that it is something Dickinson does exceptionally well. But such preparation and oversight is expensive. The annual budgetary demands of global education are significant, but well worth the investment.

As I travel around the country meeting with alumni, I am moved when I hear Dickinsonians sharing stories of their time abroad, often noting their experience as one of the most defining of their lives. Providing  opportunities for more students to share in these global exchanges is at the heart of our educational mission. For this reason, we ensure that the cost of education abroad programs are approximately the same as the cost of being in Carlisle, and that one’s financial aid package completely applies to the program fees of both the Dickinson and partner programs. We also offer bridge loans to help students purchase airfare.

While we are proud of our ongoing efforts, we are not complacent. As the world around us shifts and changes, we must ensure that our global campus, curriculum and programs continue to evolve yet remain unceasingly useful. The enduring spirit of the liberal arts imbues Dickinsonians with the confidence and agency to raise their voices and be engaged citizens in this global age. The vibrancy and health of our entire planet depends on it.

Read more of the fall 2015 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

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Published November 13, 2015