New International Programs To Start

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

The Center for International Programs will launch new initiatives next semester in Australia, England, Sweden, Ireland and Northern Ireland as it continues to diversify its study-abroad opportunities.

According to CIP Director Marian St. Onge, these and other recent additions to the center's offerings reflect CIP's intent to strengthen students' international experiences, especially those of undergraduates. As foreign study has become an integral part of college education, she said, there is a greater need to match students with programs best suited to their needs and interests.

"You have a student who thinks he might like to go to Ireland," St. Onge explained, "but perhaps he would really benefit more from a semester in India. It's important to get students thinking creatively about their destination and what they could encounter both inside and outside of the classroom.

"That's why, when we look at forming relationships with institutions abroad, we consider their disciplinary strengths and how they can enhance the range of programs available," she added. "These five new opportunities - which can be either for a semester or a full year - definitely accomplish that."

Beginning in January, the University will offer students a chance to study at Notre Dame Australia in Fremantle or Murdoch University in Perth. Notre Dame Australia will be attractive to students in education or theology, St. Onge said, and Murdoch provides instruction in many fields.

"One important aspect about this program is it takes place in the west of Australia," St. Onge said, "and so there is a very different feel to the area than in the east, where most students tend to congregate. Again, this is part of the consideration for establishing these programs: What do they provide, educationally or otherwise, that is different?"

Also in January, Boston College will inaugurate a program with the University of Uppsala in Sweden, which features a distinctive system of "student nations" or social and academic clubs. Participants in the program may pursue studies in Swedish language and civilization, but St. Onge points out that Uppsala, like many foreign universities, has developed a substantial English-language curriculum.

"English has become the lingua franca in international exchange programs, to make them more attractive," she said. "That doesn't mean, however, that American college students are ignoring other languages. On the contrary, language studies at BC and elsewhere are very popular."

In the spring, BC will begin a formal program with University College Dublin - the largest of the National University of Ireland colleges - which will enable students to take courses in the arts, management or sciences. Students of Irish politics and history, meanwhile, will be particularly interested in the new program with Queen's University in Belfast, one of the most distinguished institutions in Northern Ireland.

Over the past several years, St. Onge noted, Ireland has rapidly emerged as one of the most popular locations for Boston College students, and the University now has established strong ties with almost every major higher educational institution there.

The University's foreign study opportunities in England will expand with the addition of a program at Queen Mary and Westfield College, one of the largest colleges in the University College London system. Students can choose courses from across the disciplines and participate in monthly field excursions in and around London, St. Onge said, and the college is set in the city's lively East End section.

The programs in Great Britain and Ireland demonstrate the effectiveness of designating on-site coordinators to help students get acclimated and find necessary resources, St. Onge said. Former Burns Scholar in Irish Studies Alvin Jackson, for example, will oversee students at Queen's University.

"BC faculty and administrators also travel regularly to the host universities or colleges, and check in with our students there," she said. "It's just a good way to keep students in touch with the University community, perhaps get them to start reflecting on how their experience abroad might shape the rest of their college years, and even beyond."

Return to Nov. 26 menu

Return to Chronicle home page