The University of Minnesota's study abroad curriculum integration model is built on a broad and deep collaboration with executive leadership, faculty, academic advisers, and study abroad professionals, as well as others who interface with students such as admissions and financial aid. All have been partners in integrating study abroad into the undergraduate experience.
Faculty and advisers have taught those of us in study abroad about the undergraduate curriculum and the academic planning issues facing students. We, in turn, have taught faculty and advisers about the possibilities and potential of study abroad.
We emphasize that we are interested in the long-term impact that a transformation of attitudes and behaviors about study abroad will bring to our institution.
Involving key leadership on each campus makes certain that we are working toward the goals of the institution with regard to study abroad. The Executive Group for curriculum integration consists of senior administrators from all 4 campuses and includes vice chancellors, vice provosts, the vice president for international programs, directors of each campus's study abroad office, and the core curriculum integration team.
Faculty support for curriculum integration is also key to the University of Minnesota model. The University of Minnesota–Morris campus model of Discipline Study Abroad Advisers engages faculty in overseeing and promoting study abroad within each discipline at Morris.
Visit the Curriculum Integration Collegiate Liasions web page for more information.
Our University-wide surveys have helped us understand the perceived and real barriers to study abroad. These barriers are the factors that influence a student's decision to study abroad. Our surveys have confirmed what we had known anecdotally—that there is a perception at Minnesota that study abroad costs too much and delays graduation.
Our Curriculum Integration methodology squarely faces the factors inhibiting study abroad that were indicated in our surveys.
The University of Minnesota's methodology of Assess, Match, Motivate directly relates to facing 5 factors, the "5 Fs."
We address finances by increasing study abroad scholarships, ensuring the availability of low cost study abroad options, and reminding students that financial aid can be applied to study abroad. We also train professors and advisers how to talk with students about the costs of study abroad, and we encourage them to engage students in a brief cost-benefit analysis, noting that students who study abroad are making a lifetime investment in themselves.
We address academic fit through our work with faculty to match major coursework, internships, or research requirements to appropriate study abroad programs. Study abroad is not time away from degree progress—an "extra" or an "enhancement." It is integral.
We address faculty and advisers by educating them, dispelling myths about study abroad, and enlisting their help in determining good study abroad programs for their students.
We address fear by determining what students are fearful about and making study abroad a natural part of academic conversations.
We address family and friends by providing information for students to share with their parents and by reminding students that they can acquire new life-long friends through study abroad.