USF commits to help increase study-abroad opportunities for students

The University of St. Francis (USF) has pledged to partner with the Institute of International Education (IIE) in its “Generation Study Abroad” initiative, with hopes of doubling the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade. USF’s International Programs Office has committed to increasing the number of undergraduate students who study abroad to 10% over the next five years. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow overall participation so that the annual total of students reported will reach 600,000 by 2020.

USF students studying abroad in Florence, Italy visit a monastery at the top of Mt. Subasio in Perugia, where the university’s patron, Saint Francis, used to go to meditate. This was not a required part of their study abroad experience, however, the group decided to hike there to share the same experience as Saint Francis-- some even walked barefoot, just as Francis would have.

USF students studying abroad in Florence, Italy visit a monastery at the top of Mt. Subasio in Perugia, where the university’s patron, Saint Francis, used to go to meditate. This was not a required part of their study abroad experience, however, the group decided to hike there to share the same experience as Saint Francis– some even walked barefoot, just as Francis would have.

Generation Study Abroad was launched because number and proportion of today’s students who graduate with an educational experience abroad is far too low, according to IIE. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career. IIE and its partners feel that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues.

This unique challenge will engage educators at all levels and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to drive meaningful, innovative action to increase the number of U.S. students who have the opportunity to gain international experience through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences. USF is among the lead partners who have committed to specific, measureable actions that will help reach this ambitious goal; the result will be thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world.

Currently, USF currently has exchange partnerships with Universidad Catolica de Avila in Avila, Spain; Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná in Curitiba, Brazil; Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; L’Ecole de Management de Normandie in Normandy, France; Universidad de San Francisco Xavier in Sucre, Bolivia; Kristianstad University in Kristianstad, Sweden, and Vietnam Maritime University in Hai Phong City, Vietnam.

Other faculty-led cultural and educational experiences are coordinated by USF each year. In the fall 2013 semester, students studied with USF English professor John Bowers in Florence, Italy, and others studied in Rome, Italy and Xi’an, China. Further plans are underway for USF groups to travel to destinations including Europe, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia and South Africa in spring and summer 2014. Maureen Stephan (Joliet), assistant director of the International Programs Office, has been instrumental in organizing these opportunities for USF students.

“At USF, global awareness is important and we believe that a study abroad experience enhances a student’s global outlook and overall education,” said Stephan.

More than 150 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states have already signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment, including large state and private universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and several foreign governments, as well as key higher education associations and study abroad provider organizations, have also pledged to support the goals of the initiative. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is also actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community.

For more information on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative and opportunities for study abroad through the University of St. Francis, contact Stephan at (815) 740-5025 or mstephan@stfrancis.edu.

The University of St. Francis in Joliet serves 3,400 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in arts and science, business, education, nursing, health care and social work. For information, call (800) 735-7500 or visit www.stfrancis.edu.

Media Inquiries:
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(815) 740-3826 | jfutterer@stfrancis.edu