Many U.S. colleges and universities have now endorsed the goal of making learning abroad an integral part of undergraduate education. In this White Paper we map out ways for expanding learning abroad opportunities in educationally meaningful and financially viable ways. The analysis and the recommendations are based on the experience of Mount Holyoke College, contextualized in best practices in the field. We anticipate that they will be of use to others, irrespective of whether they are at a liberal arts college or a different type of institution of higher learning, as we are all wrestling with similar challenges in our aspirations to make learning abroad possible for more, and eventually all, students.
With the support of a Teagle grant, Mount Holyoke faculty, students, administrators and alumnae met initially as a large group and then in subgroups over a period of one and a half years focusing their inquiry and discussions on three major areas: (1) how to entice all students to learn abroad; (2) how to expand summer and study abroad in a financially sustainable way; and (3) how better to integrate students’ learning abroad experiences into their educational pathways.
Among the many lessons and suggestions we share in this paper, two stand high above the others: the importance of a coordinated and integrative process and strategy in the conceptualization and implementation of a quantum leap in learning abroad, and the pivotal role of the faculty in making many of the critical steps in the expansion and integration of learning abroad happen.