All curricula and faculty are approved by the departments on campus. The majority of DIPA instructors, however, are residents of the host countries. "With local adjuncts, it is a total partnership," says Nirelle Galson, executive director of DIPA. Staff members and SU faculty believe in the importance of having a presence at the centers. "These are not outposts," she says. "These centers are part of SU." |
Galson says DIPA staff and faculty take pride in the relationships established with the host countries. Since the beginning, the University has offered programs that benefit both the students and their hosts. The very first SU abroad program, established in 1919 in Chungking, West China, gave students an opportunity to teach English to the Chinese people.
Art, art history, language, literature, public communications, international relations, and architecture programs naturally lend themselves to study abroad. Three of SU's six centers now offer special opportunities for School of Management students. "With these programs, we really take advantage of the locale and what that site has to offer," says Daisy Fried, associate director for DIPA summer programs.
The School of Architecture, for example, builds the Florence program into its curriculum. "About 80 percent of our students go to Florence in their fourth year for at least one semester, in some cases for two semesters," says Professor Randall Korman. "It is an extension of the core curriculum."
Florence is also a natural choice for visual artists like Shadra Strickland '99, an illustration major who studied there for a semester last year. "I thought it would be important to see masterpieces up close and personal," she says. "I was exposed to all the art I could handle."
For international relations graduate Rhett Gurian '99, "Europe seemed so far away." Gurian learned about DIPA through a class research project, discovered it would enhance his academic progress, and ended up spending his junior year in Strasbourg and London. "Strasbourg is an ideal place to study international relations because it is located in the geographic center of Europe and is home to the Council of Europe," he says. "Learning history, politics, and economics from a European perspective allowed me to look at everything I had learned in the states from a different point of view."
Over the years, SU faculty have worked closely with DIPA to provide students the best possible academic experience abroad. But that wasn't always the mission. Tours offered to veterans attending SU on the GI Bill following World War II emphasized sightseeing, not academics. "There was a resurgence in things international after the war," Shane says. "The programs were about 90 percent tour and 10 percent academics. In the beginning, credit was optional. By the 1950s, academic credit was the primary draw."
Jim Buschman, DIPA's associate director for recruitment, admissions, and student services, says the programs are designed to enhance students' academic experiences. "The students are expected to perform academically," he says. "They see and do a lot on their own, too."
Many students find that even the most mundane experiences bring unexpected rewards. Gurian, for instance, fondly recalls meeting a Berlin woman who shared a personal account of the once-divided city. "She had lived in the west side of the city her entire life, but had many relatives in the east," he says. "She recounted stories about smuggling western products to her cousins in the east during communist rule. Her parents would hide things in her clothing." For Gurian, it was a memorable conversation. "History was happening right in front of me," he says. "I had always heard about the Berlin Wall, but to learn about its real implications was extraordinary."