"The great challenges of the 21st century are essentially global in nature, and meeting those challenges will require a set of graduates who have a global perspective,” said Bernd Widdig, director of Boston College’s Office of International Programs, recently founded to evaluate, integrate, and develop overseas programs. “It’s simply no longer possible to consider the problems we Americans face in isolation from the rest of the world. Giving our students an international perspective has always been desirable, but in today’s world, I would say it’s absolutely essential,” said Peter Ireland, director of the planned Society of International Fellows.
Participation in international programs at Boston College is already robust. More than 40 percent of students study internationally, as each year about 1,000 undergraduates travel abroad through 65 programs based on six continents. “The number of programs isn’t important,” said Ourida Mostefai, former director of international partnerships. “Two things are important, however. One is that our programs take our students to places that are going to be very significant during the 21st century, both politically and economically, whether it’s the European Union or China. The second is that we can help each of our students make the right choices, so they can integrate their experiences with their curriculum and bring their experiences back to campus in a reflective way,”
Although language and cultural studies remain the most important elements of a study-abroad experience, new international programs also include fieldwork, professional experience, and internships. They will also reflect student needs. For example, in response to increased enrollment in Arabic and Chinese language classes at Boston College, and a growing interest in non-Western cultures and Islamic studies, the University is developing new programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.
“You can only adequately describe the house in which you live once you see it from the outside. The same is true for the culture in which you grew up. This is why one learns so much about oneself by living in another culture,” said Widdig.
also in development
- Society of International Fellows
- Center for Human Rights and International Justice