The U.S. Senate recently designated 2006 as the "Year of Study Abroad," and, in conjunction, Coastal Carolina University is planning events to promote international study.
Coastal's Office of International Programs, which coordinates foreign programs for the university, kicked off the yearlong celebration with an open house designed to increase campus awareness about study abroad opportunities for Coastal students and community members. A Study Abroad Day is planned for April 2006 on campus. Coastal has also been involved in the JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) Programme and the Peace Corps.
The Senate resolution (1) encourages secondary schools, higher education institutions, businesses and government agencies to promote and expand study abroad opportunities and (2) encourages Americans to support study abroad initiatives and observe the Year of Study Abroad with appropriate programs and activities.
Geoff Parsons, director of the Office of International Programs, feels that the Congressional study abroad designation sends an important message at a critical time. "In today's political climate and global job market, the importance of an international academic experience cannot be overstated," said Parsons. "A summer, semester, or academic year abroad can play an invaluable role in breaking down stereotypes, allaying fears and improving understanding between cultures."
Coastal has established ongoing academic exchange programs in a variety of fields with partner institutions in Spain, Germany, England, Russia, Japan, Ecuador, Australia and Ireland. "Maymester" offerings (short courses scheduled between spring and summer sessions) include study trips to France, Spain, Italy, England, Germany, Greece, Africa, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands.
Dennis Wiseman, associate provost of Academic Affairs at Coastal, predicts that study abroad activities sponsored by the university will increase. "The types of experiences students gain through foreign study programs are valuable on many levels," said Wiseman. "The cross-fertilization of academic and cultural experiences gives students more than a scholastic edge. It makes students better citizens, and it makes Coastal a better university."
New data compiled by the Institute for International Education (IIE) reveal an increase in the number of students studying abroad. According to the January/February issue of International Educator, "Despite challenges facing international education today, the number of U.S. students studying abroad is at an all-time high. Figures released in November and now available in the Open Doors 2005 report by the IIE show that the number of U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit increased by 9.6 percent in 2003-2004 (the most recent period for which data was collected) to 191,321. That's nearly triple the number of students who were studying in the mid-1980s"
The Open Doors report is based on a survey completed by more than 2,700 accredited U.S. institutions, including Coastal Carolina University.
For more information about study abroad opportunities at Coastal, contact Lori Patterson of Coastal's Office of International Programs at (843) 349-2684.