Summer programs are popular options for students whose schedules don't allow for a semester away from campus. "This year, we have 27 different summer programs," Fried says. "In many cases, DIPA summer program courses are designed to offer a unique opportunity."|
Few study-abroad programs offer options as unique as the six-week Zimbabwe summer seminar initiated three years ago by African American studies professor Micere Mugo. The seminar, Faces of Independence in Southern Africa, takes students to ancient caves, the Mandela house, war-ravaged cities, and places of natural beauty. "People think of Africa as a troubled place, but I use the seminar as an opportunity to show students another side of Africa, one from which there is much to learn," Mugo says. "It is important to humanize knowledge in this way. These are lessons all students can apply to their own cultures."
Galson, who has been involved with the University's study-abroad programs for 23 years, encourages students in disciplines not typically associated with DIPA to use the program. Currently, about 5.8 percent of SU's total undergraduate population studies abroad annually. Among this year's graduating class, more than 20 percent studied overseas. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Syracuse ranked 8th in a study last year that evaluated the top 20 research institutions with undergraduates studying abroad. Ronald Cavanagh, vice president for undergraduate studies and one of DIPA's biggest boosters, is determined to increase that percentage. "I try to convince students of the benefits associated with spending time immersed in another culture," he says. "I want more students to experience the unique opportunities the Division of International Programs Abroad offers."
Programs are continually evaluated to make sure the academic value is maximized. Programs have come and gone as academic needs changed, including ones in Colombia; Poitiers, France; and Amsterdam.
DIPA's attention to student needs has not gone unnoticed outside the University community. The opportunity to study abroad is a draw for prospective SU students. "I was familiar with the study-abroad options when I came to Syracuse," says Sarah Palefsky '00, an advertising major who studied in London last year. "It was one of my criteria for choosing a college."
As early as 1953, students from other colleges joined SU students on study-abroad programs. Today, students from more than 300 colleges and universities participate. Catherine Beekman, a junior at Indiana University who studied in London with DIPA last year, chose the program because she was familiar with the quality of SU's public affairs curriculum. "I had to make sure the credits would transfer to fulfill specific requirements for my major," she says. "The SU program offers a great opportunity to live in another country while maintaining high academic standards."
Ensuring Health and Safety
When American students study abroad, there are risks to consider. For DIPA, health and safety issues are top priorities. "When students think they can pretty much do what they want, that can be dangerous," Fried says, "because behavior that is acceptable here may not be acceptable in Europe or Africa. Americans, in general, are open and friendly. In some countries that can be regarded as an invitation for unwanted attention."
Cavanagh says the University does all it can to prepare students for the difficulties they may face in assimilating to their temporary homes. DIPA also works closely with other offices on campus to address safety issues.