KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Program applications are now being accepted for incoming freshmen who would like to study abroad before beginning their first semester at Western Michigan University.
Students committed to beginning study at WMU in fall 2018 are encouraged to apply to one of three new 10-day, faculty-led courses that take place this August, before classes begin, and may satisfy a general education requirement. The deadline for incoming freshmen to apply is Sunday, May 6.
Faculty-led programs are hosted and accompanied by WMU faculty representing various disciplines. Participants in these programs have the benefit of traveling with a group of other WMU students and being with a faculty leader familiar with their study abroad destination.
"Incoming freshmen are particularly encouraged to take advantage of this study abroad opportunity since, among other things, it allows them to make friends prior to starting classes on campus, provides a structured learning environment abroad under the supervision and guidance of a respected WMU professor, and may help them decide to incorporate a longer study abroad program into their future academic plans," said Lee Penyak, director of WMU Study Abroad.
This summer's Programs
Three academic colleges have developed freshman study abroad programs that will satisfy a general education requirement for students in their college.
- College of Arts and Sciences—Topics in Global Studies: Social & Economic Issues in the Dominican Republic.
- College of Engineering and Applied Sciences—Engineering in Scotland.
- College of Education and Human Development—Education in Ireland.
"Our goal is to, one day, have a freshman study abroad program for students in every academic college," Penyak said.
About 10 to 15 students will be selected to participate in each of the three new study abroad opportunities. Selection will differ by program but high school GPA and brief interviews may be used in the selection process. Students must be at least 18 years of age.
Creating new study abroad programs is one way that WMU works toward its commitment to Generation Study Abroad, the Institute of International Education's five-year initiative that seeks to double and diversify the number of U.S. students studying abroad by 2020.
"Study abroad fortifies the third pillar of WMU—global engagement," Penyak said. "Participating in one of these freshman programs will hopefully get students to want to participate in more study abroad programs and will further internationalize our campus."
Social & Economic Issues in the Dominican Republic
This program will examine the economy and society of the Dominican Republic and be led by Dr. Susan Pozo, professor of economics and chair of the global and international studies program. Pozo has led WMU student groups abroad for many years, traveling to both Uruguay and the Dominican Republic.
"[Students will] learn to use basic tools to measure and understand the economic and social realities of the Dominican Republic," Pozo said. "The Dominican Republic has been successful, in many ways, in elevating its population from poverty. But a substantial proportion of the population has still been left behind."
Participating students will depart Tuesday, Aug. 7, and return Wednesday, Aug. 15.
Engineering in Aberdeen, Scotland
This program will give students a chance to study petroleum engineering at Aberdeen University in Scotland and be led by Dr. Betsy Aller, associate professor of engineering design, manufacturing and management systems, and Dr. Andy Kline, associate dean for research and graduate education.
"Students enrolled in this course will learn about Scottish history and culture, and will be able to discuss how sustainability efforts can impact their future work as engineers," Kline said.
Travel dates will be announced shortly.
Education in Ireland
This program will give students the opportunity to learn about preparing education and support systems in Ireland and be led by Dr. Paul Vellom, an associate professor of teaching, learning and educational studies who focuses on elementary education.
"Students will learn about formal and informal education systems in Ireland and will visit schools, community centers, and youth organizations in Dublin, Limerick and Cork," Vellom said.
Travel dates will be announced shortly.
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