FLORENCE – What began a decade ago as a small student exchange between Francis Marion University and the University of Basel in Switzerland has grown into a multi-disciplinary, study abroad program in which students have explored the politics and economy of Europe, Latin America, or the Middle East.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the FMU International Program which offers a variety of opportunities for students to experience cultures different from their own. These programs include international exchange, summer language and cultural programs and travel courses. By participating, students are able to experience another culture and earn credit toward their academic degrees.
In an increasingly globalized society, gaining an international perspective expands students’ perception of other cultures, especially in today’s worldwide economic environment, said FMU President Luther F. Carter.
International exchange should not be seen as an add-on, but as a must, he added.
“Studying abroad is the first international travel experience for many of our students but is rarely the last. If students travel now, they will continue to travel throughout their lives,” said Carter. “It gives our students in-depth exposure to other cultures in a way that might not otherwise be possible.”
At the helm of those efforts is Associate Professor of Astronomy and Coordinator of International Programs Jeannette Myers. She said students can expect even greater things in the years to come.
“For the year 2009-2010, our goal is to see more students from the university take part in these experiences and have more international students attending a semester exchange here,” said Myers. “Entering our tenth year, we are excited to see the number of programs in which our students can participate in grow.”
Currently, FMU participates in exchanges in Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, and Mexico. Students selected for an exchange program must have completed a minimum of 30 academic hours and have a GPA of 3.0. Each program has a faculty member who serves as a liaison.
The liaisons for each are: Physics Professor R. Seth Smith, University of Northern British Columbia in Canada; Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Students J. Mark Blackwell, De Montfort University in England; Associate Professor French Elizabeth Zahnd, Université de Caen Basse-Normandie in France; Professor of German George Harding, Universität Trier in Germany; Myers, Fachhochschule Schmalkalden – University of Applied Sciences in Germany; Associate Professor of English Rebecca Flannagan, National University of Ireland – Maynooth; and Assistant Professor of Spanish Kristin Kiely, Universidad Internacional in Mexico
The exchange agreements enable FMU students to study abroad and pay tuition and required fees at FMU. International students pay fees on their home campus. The only other costs are for transportation to the host country and for room and board. The same is true for international students coming to study at FMU.
Course credits taken at the international university are transferable to FMU and will count toward graduation. International students taking classes at FMU can transfer the credits to their home institution. A new agreement with the ESCEM School of Business and Management in France was recently added to the program.
“The effectiveness of these partnerships depends on their role as platforms for deep, cumulative learning, research, and engagement, so that new experiences build on previous ones, students participate in a variety of courses and co-curricular activities, and faculty collaborate across national boundaries,” said FMU Provost Richard Chapman. The result is an integrated set of activities that cuts across both institutions, enhances the capacity of each for international work, and is sustained over a long period, he added.
Flannagan, who has been with the university since 1995, said Carter has been a champion for internationalizing the university since he came aboard in 1999. "He has forged opportunities for faculty members to apply their expert knowledge on pressing global problems, while promoting opportunities for students to benefit from international educational experiences," said Flannagan.
Also offered is a summer program in which FMU students can participate at a cost paid to the host institution. Credits earned during these programs are transferred to FMU.
At the Fachhochschule Schmalkalden – University of Applied Sciences, Schmalkalden, Germany, students can participate in two programs during June and July.
· International Summer School in Business Administration, Management and Economics
· Summer Program in German Language and Culture
At the Universidad Internacional in Cuernavaca, Mexico, students can participate in one program during late May.
· Spanish Language and Cultural Program
During each school year, courses are organized by members of the FMU faculty that include travel through a foreign country (ies). Students participating in these courses pay fees to the program, attend class lectures before and during the program, and earn up to three credit hours. Programs vary from year to year and have included:
· Tropical Field Biology – with travel to Costa Rica
· Field Studies in Geography – with travel to Costa Rica
· Pfalz-Akademie – with travel in Germany from Lambrecht to Berlin
· Southeast Asia – with travel through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam