March 12, 2014 10:45AM
Pittsburg State University has joined a national movement aimed at increasing the number of students who study abroad.
The Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative has a goal of doubling the number of American students who study abroad by the end of this decade. By formally joining the campaign, Pittsburg State and other universities nationwide have committed to increasing the number of their students who study abroad over the next five years.
More than 150 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states have signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment, including large state and private universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges. Megan Corrigan, Pitt State study abroad coordinator, said she hopes at least 200 Gorillas a year will study abroad by 2019.
“We have about 100 to 110 who study abroad for credit right now,” she said. “I believe in this national movement because it’s always our goal to make study abroad a possibility for more and more students. I think we can get to 200 in five years.”
Corrigan said studying abroad is “one of the best decisions a student can make.”
“Studying abroad is no longer the cherry on top of the sundae,” she said, “but it is an important ingredient in a well-rounded education.”
Cathy Lee Arcuino, director of international programs and services at Pitt State, said the value of the lessons learned while studying abroad can’t be overstated.
“No matter what careers students choose to go into, they are going to experience different cultures,” she said. “Studying abroad exposes students to those different cultures while in college and in a safe environment.”
Corrigan said study abroad has increased in popularity over the past 20 years.
“Twenty years ago, study abroad was viewed as something only wealthy students or language majors could do,” she said. “That’s not the case anymore with short-term programs, more affordable costs, and study abroad scholarships. Study abroad is now a realistic option for any student.”
Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million of its own funds to this initiative over the next five years.
“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” said Allan Goodman, president of IIE. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”
For more information on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, and a complete list of commitment partners, go to: www.iie.org/generationstudyabroad.