Susquehanna University to Implement Unique, Cross-Cultural Study-Away Requirement
Feb. 19, 2009
SELINSGROVE, Pa. - All new students at Susquehanna University will be required, beginning this fall, to participate in a unique cross-cultural program that will expose them to different cultural experiences either in the United States or abroad.
The program, called GO (Global Opportunities), is highly distinctive. Although other universities and colleges have implemented study-abroad requirements, Susquehanna’s program will allow students to fulfill the requirement by participating in a traditional semester-abroad program, or by experiencing learning that puts them in an unfamiliar cultural context.
Examples of a domestic cross-cultural experience might include teaching in an inner-city school. Such experiences may be short-term—developed by faculty or staff—or self-designed by the student. All experiences must be pre-approved by a faculty committee.
“Someone from a small town can have a very meaningful, two-week learning experience at an inner-city program and vice versa,” says Scott Manning, director of cross-cultural and off-campus programs and associate professor of French. “We believe these experiences will help students see themselves and their own culture more clearly while learning about someone else’s.”
Several other aspects of GO are unique. The emphasis of this requirement is not simply travel off campus. To receive credit, students must engage in critical reflection with an SU faculty member after the students return from cross-cultural experiences.
“The faculty decided early on that we didn’t want to give credit just for going somewhere, but for critical reflection on the experience,” Manning said. “That’s the academic component and something that other schools have praised us for.”
The cross-cultural experience also must be integrated into diversity learning. Students must complete an on-campus diversity course prior to their off-campus travel. In addition, students will complete a diversity-intensive course, most likely in their major, to show they understand how diversity applies in work and life. A management major might take a course on Women in Organizations to fulfill this requirement.
Short-term cross-cultural experiences will typically last a minimum of two weeks. They can build on programs already in place at Susquehanna. Students might choose SU CASA, an award-winning program that takes students to Costa Rica and Nicaragua to serve congregations, clinics, hospitals, and refugee and immigrant communities. Closer to home is the school’s SPLASH program, which helps those who are homeless in Washington, D.C.
Linda McMillin, provost and faculty dean, said GO is the outgrowth of major enhancements to the university’s central curriculum, which began in 2003. She said the new central curriculum places even greater emphasis on teaching and applying critical thinking in an increasingly diverse, global economy.
“We are a liberal arts college with a great pragmatic bent that’s influenced by our professional programs in business, music and communications,” she said. “We emphasize the intellectual and critical-thinking skills, but also teach students how to put them to work in today’s world.”
The costs of GO represent a significant commitment on the part of the university. For approved semester-long study abroad, the cost of tuition will be the same as Susquehanna’s. Financial aid will be available, including for students attending approved short-term programs who have demonstrated need. All costs—including tuition, room, board and travel—will be taken into account when determining financial aid.
Founded in 1858, Susquehanna University is a private liberal arts college that prepares students for achievement, leadership and service in a diverse, interconnected world. Study and service learning abroad, collaborative research among students and faculty, and rich opportunities for creative and personal growth are hallmarks of a Susquehanna University education. The university is located in central Pennsylvania, in the town of Selinsgrove, along the banks of the scenic Susquehanna River and about three hours from major East Coast cultural, financial and recreational centers.