2012 GoAbroad Innovation Awards Finalists: Innovative New Program – Study Abroad

GoAbroad 2012 Innovative New Program AwardThe GoAbroad Team is  pleased to feature the 2012  GoAbroad Innovation Awards finalists in the category of Innovative New Program – Study Abroad. We received many wonderful nominations and the selection committee has chosen five finalists, listed here in alphabetical order. Throughout this week, GoAbroad will highlight the finalists in each of the GoAbroad Innovation Award categories!

Arcadia University

“Renewable Energy: Policy and Development”

The full potential of all available renewable energy sources must be tapped if we are to resolve some of the most pressing global issues of our times. Based on this core premise and a shared vision of providing intellectually stimulating and engaged international education, Arcadia University, The College of Global Studies collaborated with the University of Bonn in Germany, and Northwestern University to establish a unique interdisciplinary program: Renewable Energy: Policy and Development.

Germany is a leader in renewable energy systems and it is innovating rapidly in the areas of climate change and geopolitics. This intensive program offers a thorough examination of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass processes as the German people adapt to rapid climatic changes. It also provides a historical and socio-cultural framework for understanding these processes. After intensive planning and coordination, the program ran in 2010 with 15 and 2011 with 19 motivated, intellectually curious, and socially engaged undergraduate students from very different universities. Currently 19 students are enrolled for the third program in summer 2012.

Bard College – Institute for International Liberal Education

“Al-Quds Bard Study Abroad Program in West Bank”

Bard College is an innovator and risk taker in the field of study abroad. All of Bard’s study abroad programs are based in deep partnerships with a local university who share a commitment to the theories and practice of liberal arts education. Bard’s new study abroad program in the West Bank, created in 2011, continues this tradition. In many ways, the West Bank location alone boldly sets the program apart in the field of international education. There are very few options, if any, for students to study in an academically rigorous semester program in the West Bank. Even less opportunity exists to study today’s tough global challenges alongside Palestinian students.

In contrast, the Al-Quds Bard Study Abroad Program allows students the opportunity to spend a semester studying side-by-side with Palestinian students at the newly founded Al-Quds Bard College for Liberal Arts and Sciences. Through this dynamic and innovative new study abroad program, students with a desire to academically engage with Palestinian students and experience life in the West Bank first-hand now have a structured and immersive outlet to do so.

Center for Global Education/Wheaton College

“Study Abroad Program in the Kingdom of Bhutan”

Wheaton College is the only institution of higher learning (college or university) with a semester-long credit bearing study program in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Students spend four months in the country that devised the notion of Gross National Happiness as they observe a nation making the transition to a constitutional monarchy.

Wheaton College has been successfully running the program for two-years exclusively for Wheaton students but has just announced that they are accepting applications from students from other colleges beginning with the Fall 2012 term. It is through the practicum experience that students get a firsthand opportunity to immerse themselves into the larger Bhutanese community.  In the first two years Wheaton students have had the chance to intern with government offices such as the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance and Thimphu Hospital.  In addition, students have interned with NGO’s such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature, Voluntary Artists Society of Thimphu, RENEW, a domestic violence intervention and prevention program, KUZOO, the English language radio station and the Youth Development Centre.

CAPA International Education

“Analyzing and Exploring the Global City”

Analyzing and Exploring the Global City is a new ‘capstone’ program currently offered in London, Sydney, Florence and Beijing by CAPA International Education,  which is designed to capitalize on opportunities for comparative research.  In each program, a local version of this course focuses on the historical development of each of these global cities (or cities which aspire to be global), and investigates the contemporary nature and implications of their ‘globality’ in terms of their distinctive social, economic, cultural and political landscapes.  Local versions of the course also examine how each city has been transformed in different ways by the forces of industrialization, imperialism and globalization and consider the ways in which each city and its inhabitants have been shaped by their dynamic relationships with the wider world.

Students gain insights into each site’s changing identity as a world city, with a particular emphasis on analyzing the ways in which past and present, local and global, universal and particular intertwine in the city.

University of Minnesota Twin Cities/Academic Programs International (API)

“Arab Media: Al Jazeera in the Time of Revolution”

This special program entitled “Arab Media: Al Jazeera in the Time of Revolution”, was designed by Dr. Imed Labidi of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in conjunction with Academic Programs International (API). It brought 19 students on a 3-week trip to Doha, Qatar to study what was arguably the driving force behind many of the recent Arab revolutions – the Doha-based network Al Jazeera.

The program included a series of insightful lectures on media and cultural studies in the Arab world, local guest speakers involved in documentary production, media, and business, and unprecedented access to important media and policy centers around Qatar such as Al Jazeera, the Qatar Foundation, and the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (not to mention cultural visits such as Zubara fort, a desert safari, a camel/falcon farm, and other Qatari heritage sites). It was truly a groundbreaking study abroad program in media studies that would be difficult to replicate in another time or place.

University of Maryland

“Microfinance in Action”

The R.H. Smith School at the University of Maryland (UM) with the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) offered an innovative, experiential undergraduate study abroad Microfinance in Action course in Winter 2012 in Nicaragua.  Course goals were for the students to use knowledge gained in undergraduate courses, experience entrepreneurial operations first hand, and positively impact the lives of people in an international community.

The students were consultants for Opportunity International (OI), a nonprofit organization that provides microfinance loans and training to millions of people in developing countries. Students also worked with entrepreneurs in the town of San Juan del Sur, including a taxi driver, microlender, clothing store, and grocery store owners. While these entrepreneurs had no business background, they brought to the table their knowledge of the culture, their clientele’s likes/dislikes, and where to find the best wholesale deals.  The students developed strategies for accounting/budgeting and taught basic computer literacy skills including spreadsheet creation and business principles such as the importance of reinvesting in the business and the significance of product placements.

Congratulations to the finalists! The winner of this category will be announced at the GoAbroad invitation-only reception during the upcoming NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference and will be posted to the GoAbroad blog and the GoAbroad Innovation Awards page. Other category finalists are also being announced this week. Stay tuned for more updates!

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