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Through Courses and Recruitment, St. John’s Expands its Global Reach

Hospitality students in Assisi, Italy
Monday, September 25, 2017

Embracing the opportunities afforded by an increasingly global society, St. John’s has strengthened the undergraduate and graduate student learning experience by offering more study abroad opportunities at every level of instruction.

St. John’s has earned wide recognition for its focus on global studies. For example, the Institute of International Education (IIE) ranks St. John’s 31st in the nation among doctoral-granting institutions with the most undergraduate participation in study abroad programs. A record 1,026 St. John’s students earned credits abroad during the 2016–17 academic year.

Faculty Paving a Global Academic Path for Students

Christina Palavra in Cuba
Communication Arts major
Christina Palavra in Cuba

This past year, a growing number of faculty-directed courses took students from New York City to destinations around the world. Students combined academics with service-learning in locations that ranged from the Caribbean to Africa.

Alina Camacho-Gingerich, Ph.D., Professor of Languages and Literatures, led a new program called “Cuba from Within.” Eighty-one students applied and 23 were selected (including Christina Palavra pictured right) to live and learn in Havana, Matanzas, and Varadero over the winter 2017 session. Guest lecturers included well-known figures in the arts, education, and politics.

“Being able to experience the Cuban culture improved my knowledge of that country,” said Lesly Vivar ’18TCB. “It gave me a real feeling of independence and taught me to embrace new opportunities.”

Four other faculty-directed initiatives launched during the 2016–17 academic year. In the spring, Almerinda Forte, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Administration and Economics, directed a program entitled “Italian Hospitality: Boot-Camp Style,” in Perugia and Rome, Italy.

St. John’s coordinated the initiative with the University of Perugia, which has one of Europe’s leading hospitality programs. Participating students attended lectures at the campus and visited sites in and around Perugia, Assisi, and Rome, including The Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri, home to the Eternal City’s only Michelin-rated, three-star restaurant. The University of Perugia awarded each St. John’s student a certificate upon completion of the program.

Professor Thomas and his Global Ethics students in Soweto, South Africa
Professor Thomas and his Global Ethics
students in Soweto, South Africa

Students also explored Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa, as part of a program entitled “Ethics in a Global Perspective.” S. Joshua Thomas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, led the course.

Athens, Greece, was the site for “Modern Greek and International Management,” a cooperative initiative of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business and St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. John Angelidis, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Management, and Athanasia Biska, Instructor, Languages and Literatures, directed the effort. Reflecting the generosity of St. John’s alumni, Nikos Mouyiaris ’68UC funded the program in Greece with a leadership-level gift to St. John’s.

St. John’s emphasis on global learning enhanced graduate studies as well. In the M.S. in International Communication, students explored Beijing and Hainan, China, in collaboration with St. John’s partner institution, Sanya University. During the winter session, they participated in “Digital Ecology and Mobilization of People,” led by Basilio Monteiro, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mass Communication, Director of International Communication, and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research in the College of Professional Studies.

Creating Opportunities for International Students

Students from 46 states and 127 countries enhance the cosmopolitan diversity of the St. John’s community. In New York, students can immerse themselves in different cultures without ever leaving the city. St. John’s Office of Global Studies launched a pilot program in summer 2016 for 21 international students enrolled in Clinical Pharmacology, taught by Zhe-Sheng (Jason) Chen, Ph.D., Professor, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The program, known as “Study Abroad New York,” balances traditional classroom experiences with student excursions to events, cultural attractions, and historic sites throughout the city.

This past summer’s cohort grew to 33 students from three partner universities: Welfang Medical University, Guangdong Pharmaceutical University, and Guangzhou Medical University. 

The University also is substantially increasing efforts to attract more students from around the world. The Office of International Admission plans to increase international recruiting efforts during the 2017–18 academic year. “We’re reviewing numerous options for new partnerships,” said Christian Andrade, Associate Director of International Admission. “Our strategy includes a combination of high school visits and attending college fairs in countries such as China, Japan, Brazil, England, and beyond.” 

This year, St. John’s placed an emphasis on recruiting students in China. Outreach also is expanding in Latin America; Panama and Costa Rica are new, strategic areas for recruiting, noted Mr. Andrade. “With a long tradition in New York City and easily accessible metropolitan campuses, St. John’s University has location in its favor,” he said. “New York is a global destination for the arts, finance, and media, which makes the city very welcoming to international students.”