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Faculty Participation Spurs More Global Studies Options for Students

Students see historic Spanish sites like Cibeles Palace, Madrid.
Monday, March 25, 2013

When Christine Lawless ’15CPS steps outside her front gate, some of the world’s best-known cultural sites are well within walking distance. She can head one way through the cobbled streets and visit the Musée d’Orsay. Turning in another direction, she can see the Eiffel Tower.

The front gate actually belongs to St. John’s University’s Paris campus, at 93, rue de Sèvres in the historic St-Germain district of the city. But for the next two months, Lawless considers it hers. “It’s amazing,” said the communication arts major from upstate Pine Plains, NY. “There are so many beautiful, charming places all around this location.”

Lawless is one of more than 200 St. John’s students spending a portion of spring 2014 in France. Fourteen others are visitors from various colleges and universities across the US. Though Lawless is there as part of the University’s Paris semester program, she originally stayed in the City of Lights for two weeks through one of the many study abroad options offered by the Office of Global Studies. She also has taken short-term courses in Morocco and Bermuda.

“When I left Paris the first time, I knew I had to come back,” Lawless said. “St. John’s wants you to take advantage of all the study abroad opportunities you have here. I tell everyone, ‘just do it.’”

An International Dimension to Teaching

The number of study abroad options at St. John’s—especially short-term courses—has grown thanks partly to steadily expanding faculty participation in programs spanning from seven days to just over a month, said MyKellann Maloney, director of global studies programs. In 2005–6, for example, only six professors taught classes in which a short, overseas component was part of an otherwise traditional course at the Queens or Staten Island campus. This past year, 31 faculty leaders took part.  

The increase reflects a strengthening partnership between the Office of Global Studies and the University’s academic departments, Maloney noted. “We’re consistently offering different types of short-term programs,” she said, “enhancing the options for professors who want to bring an international dimension to their teaching—and benefiting students who want to experience other languages and cultures.”

“Teaching in Paris is a wonderful experience,” said Barry Sherman, associate professor of communications, “and intersession is a perfect length for me to teach a class abroad. It’s ‘fun’ for the professor, of course, but it’s also work—all day, seven days a week work. It’s an academic class, and the text is the city of Paris and its environs.” Sherman taught the course that first brought Lawless to France.

A Full Immersion in Other Cultures

Studying abroad “makes language students want to learn more,” observed Carmela Scala, Ph.D., adjunct assistant professor of Italian. For the past five years, she has taught courses at St. John’s Rome campus. She will be teaching another course there for Summer Session I. “Students have a full immersion in the culture,” she said. “I take students around, and they see, first-hand, the environment that shapes, and is shaped by, the language.”

Kisha Pinnock ’14C agrees. A government and politics major who graduates this May, she has studied abroad four times over the course of three years—through the Global Passport Program, Discover the World, and short-term courses in Morocco and Bermuda. “I couldn’t get enough of the experience,’ said Pinnock. “Even if you worry about the costs, the University offers aid to help you—everybody should do it.”

St. John’s students may apply online to any of 15 short-term courses in 10 different countries, including Argentina, China, Greece, Spain, or Vietnam, as well as full-semester opportunities. Those enrolled at other universities may complete our visiting student application. Learn more by contacting the Office of Global Studies in Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall: [email protected]; 718-990-6105.