[photopress:MBA_Brian_Whalen.JPG,full,alignright]If you are a university student in the United States it has almost become mandatory that you spend some of your time studying overseas with China the prime choice.
Indeed, two schools, Goucher College and Soka University of America, have already instituted mandatory study-abroad requirements for undergraduates, while other schools like Harvard and Duke are currently debating whether or not to follow suit.
This is part of a much larger educational trend that is repositioning the idea of a liberal education. Recruiting foreign students, creating international research groups, designing a multilingual and multicultural campus at home, and sending students to study in foreign countries around the globe are all efforts made by America’s colleges to at least try to get a grip of the effects of globalization.
Part of this move comes from a legal ruling nearly 30 years old.
This was Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell in his in 1978 opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke which enshrined the idea of an ethnically diverse campus as a reflection of American egalitarianism. He ruled that race could be used as a criterion of positive discrimination in college admissions which made affirmative action constitutional and helped lead to the diversity which is to be seen, for better or worse, throughout American education.
In 1985 less than 50,000 American students studied abroad which was less than half of one percent of enrolled college students at the time. In the next twenty years the number increased 150%.
Mainly this came from American students studying abroad in traditional destinations like Western Europe and the United Kingdom.
However, between 2001 and 2005 China saw a four-fold increase in popularity while Europe essentially stood still.
This led to colleges wanting ways of checking quality standards.
In 2001 The Forum on Education Abroad was founded to create standards for international education programs. Brian Whalen, seen in our illustration, the forum’s president told the Chronicle of Higher Education, ‘We tend to think of study abroad as a silver bullet—that it’s going to make students more academically engaged, better citizens, and help our country in globalization. And in some ways, it’s very powerful. But we lack precision to our programs, let alone a way to measure what we’re accomplishing.’