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Global Studies Milestones Reflect St. John’s Commitment to International Education

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

To highlight the increasingly international dimension of a St. John’s education, the University updated its Mission Statement in October, officially characterizing itself as a “metropolitan and global university.”

The change reflects the growing strength of the University’s global studies offerings—as do several recent milestones. For example, the Institute of International Education (IIE) has named St. John’s among the top-40 doctorate-granting US universities with the greatest proportion of undergraduates in study abroad programs. More than 34 percent of the entire undergraduate class—676 students—participated in at least one of more than 25 study abroad opportunities in 2013–14.  

In addition, 2014–15 marked the first time in St. John’s history that more than 1,000 students earned credit while taking courses in other nations. “Our academic community wants to ensure that students gain an international perspective as part of their education,” said Matthew Pucciarelli, Associate Vice President of Global Studies.

St. John’s also advanced toward its goal of “changing the face of study abroad in higher education,” said Pucciarelli. As of 2014–15, nearly half the undergraduates enrolled in the University’s study abroad programs are students of color, reflecting the diversity of the campus community. In addition, three students received Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships for spring 2016. Sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the prestigious awards were created to help students with limited financial means take advantage of study abroad programs and/or internships.

“Given how competitive the Gilman scholarships are, I was very surprised and happy to be a recipient,” said Joan Cheung ’20Pharm.D. “This makes it far easier for me to take part in the Discover the World Pharmacy Program.” Through the course, Cheung will be studying in Paris, Seville, and Rome in a single semester.

A number of anniversaries this past year also illustrate the University’s longstanding commitment to studying abroad. For example, it was the 30th year that St. John’s offered study abroad programs and the 20th that students have been able to take courses at the Rome campus.

The University continues to develop new international education opportunities. This semester, for example, The School of Education introduced an internship—Discover Italy: Education—allowing students majoring in adult and adolescent education to teach English to local children. Supervision is provided by a professor of education in addition to an Italian “master teacher.”

As part of this effort, two new programs will be introduced in fall 2016.  Discover Spain: Psychology is designed to give psychology majors a chance to gain first-hand knowledge about college life in Spain by collaborating on projects with students at a local university. Discover the World (DTW): History, open to all majors, is structured to allow one full-time member of the history department to accompany students to all three cities under study.

Mauricio Borrero, Associate Professor of History, will be the first faculty member to teach the program. “The goal,” he said, “is to provide context by taking students to sites in Paris, Rome, and Seville, where the historical events they are studying actually took place.”