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The Office of International Studies celebrates a record-breaking year

More students and faculty members than ever are taking learning to new locales; here’s the info you need to start exploring.

By Lindsey Coulter

October 30, 2018

Students studying abroadLast year, 299 Roadrunners flew the coop — and that’s a good thing. The students were part of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Office of International Studies’ biggest-ever year for study-abroad participation, beating the previous record of 260 during the 2013-14 academic year. Students participated in everything from yearlong immersive programs to spring-break study trips in such countries as Mexico, Scotland, Tibet, Hungary, Peru, Ghana and beyond.

Another cause for applause: The past year also saw an increase in faculty-led international courses. More than 200 students from across the academic spectrum joined professors in 23 study-abroad experiences, 13 of which were new to the University in 2017-18.

“Despite this growth there’s still not a lot of knowledge about these opportunities,” said Jennifer Provizer, study-abroad advisor. “We have so many different program options and student support.”

Provizer works with students interested in studying abroad by helping them select a program, apply for financial aid and scholarships, become familiar with predeparture orientations and understand how credits earned abroad might apply to MSU Denver programs. And Provizer and Akbarali Thobhani, Ph.D., executive director, Office of International Studies, are just as eager to help faculty.

Any full-time Category II or tenure-track faculty member or emeritus faculty member can design a study-abroad course, but the Office of International Studies can also support faculty participating in activities with partner universities, faculty exchanges, guest-lecturer programs, etc. Faculty interested in working with international colleagues — or taking students abroad for research opportunities — can receive curriculum and planning support as well as grant-writing assistance.

Students studying abroad“You don’t have to do it alone,” Provizer said. “There are lots of ways that faculty can engage with our office.”

The same advice applies to students who don’t think international learning is within reach. Only about 1.5 percent of Roadrunners are studying abroad, and even fewer students apply for related scholarships.

“We see most barriers to studying abroad as perceived; it's not necessarily out of students’ price range,” Provizer said. “For the size of our institution, we’ve received a number of very prestigious and competitive grants.”

This growing list includes MSU Denver’s second Critical Language Scholarship Program award and 12 extremely competitive Fulbright-Hays Awards in 2017-18 alone to students traveling to India with Professors Andrew Muldoon, Ph.D., history, and James Aubrey, Ph.D., English, to study modern India and South Asian history and culture.

Provizer has also observed that study-abroad experiences are equally beneficial for declared and undeclared students, and that a bite from the travel bug is often a significant motivator in degree completion.

“Students who have studied abroad have very high retention rates,” Provizer said. “Studying abroad is one of the high-impact practices that help keep students on track. When they come back, there’s a huge motivation to finish up and to get out, and it helps them stand out professionally.”

To learn more about study-abroad opportunities, contact Thobhani or Provizer.

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