An Idea So Crazy… It Just Might Work!

Stuff at work has been really fun and interesting right now. The University here is in the midst of a lot of change, and from what I can see the majority of the change is for the best.

One of the things they really want to do is make sure that each student gets an international or intercultural experience in the time that they are here. This can be for a week, a month, a semester, a year. Just some sort of experience that broadens their perspective on the world. For my discipline, Chemistry, this has been really hard to achieve in the past. Typically science majors have a hard time integrating with semesters abroad because of how set and rigid the curriculum is.

While I was sitting in one of my faculty development meetings today listening to the stick about international travel and approval and things of this nature, I started thinking about our European sister school. And I realized that the possibility of an international semester was quite possible…. just maybe we could do it.

The European sister school is a 45 minute drive from another school that I know a professor at who I organized a conference with 2 years ago. We’re not close contacts, but close enough that I could email him and ask to work with him and it wouldn’t be weird.

The idea is this: Every other year we could take the Chemistry students abroad for a semester at our sister school. That is where they would live, eat, take classes. I’d teach the Chem students I brought an upper division chemistry class and a research class. I’d probably have to teach a Gen Ed class at the sister school too, I’d imagine. Then the students would take 1-2 general education classes at the sister school. Religion or humanities or something like that. We’d probably be telling them from the beginning which classes so they’d know not to take them here.

Their class work would have to be all MWF or all TTh, and then on their 2 or 3 off days we’d go to the research lab at the big university and do work there.

They’d get a semester abroad, research experience, a chance for international travel. And I think I could do it without adding any money to what they would have to pay for tuition and room and board currently.

It is a crazy idea, and one that needs serious fleshing out, but I think if could be amazing.

So I’ll ask you, the blogging community. If you were a student would an option like this be appealing to you? What if it were required? How well do you think students would respond to such an opportunity?

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5 Responses to An Idea So Crazy… It Just Might Work!

  1. eemusings says:

    YES YE YES!
    For me, the main reason I didn’t do one of these was inflexibility (we didn’t have many options for exchange campuses and our course schedule was very tight) and of course money.

    If you could somehow do it without adding much or anything to their regular costs then hell yes!!!

  2. karen says:

    I like the idea but it shouldn’t be a requirement. What about non-traditional students? People who work, have kids or pets? Even students who have a “fast food” type job wouldn’t be able to work for a semester.
    Also, you would have to see if GI Bill would accept this sister school and any other grants (I’m thinking this won’t be an issue but it is a consideration).

    • karen says:

      Also, anyone who might have any type of disability. I remember in HS we had a classmate who needed a caretaker (I believe he had MS?). Heck, someone who has a fear of flying…

    • SS4BC says:

      All of your points are excellent.

      Just a few points in response:

      1) The reality is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to make it mandatory. But as we only have two Chem profs in the department and the other one would be responsible for all of the lower division classes that semester, the Chem majors who wouldn’t go would definitely be at a disadvantage – not completely “out” but definitely a disadvantage. That said, the students remaining behind would still be able to finish in the appropriate time and would not be too put out by the process. They would just take their Physics requirements and their Biology requirements that semester if they don’t go. Or take a directed study from the remaining professor.

      2) In the history of our school we have NEVER had a non-traditional Chemistry major. They are all traditional students. This isn’t to say it wouldn’t change, but for the demographic we have now and have had in the past this wouldn’t be an issue.

      3) The “sister” school is more of a “step-daughter” school in that their accreditation is through us and 50% of their faculty are actually our professors who take turns going out and teaching each semester. So the students would still pay their tuition through OUR school, and just be taking classes THERE. So scholarships and financial aide would not be affected.

      4) If you have a physical disability you’ll probably not be a Chem major. Kinda hard to do a major that requires hands-on contact with dangerous chemicals if you’re physically not able to. I’ve seen one person in a wheel chair attempt to take a Chem lab, but she wasn’t a major. Again, not something that is typically seen but obviously something that would require thought if the situation arose. But not a likely possibility in all honesty. Someone with any type of disability would require a lot of consideration irregardless of going abroad for a semester.

      5) Thank you so much for your thoughts, it is really good to hear the concerns that people might have. =)

  3. karen says:

    Good luck with this proposal! 🙂

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