!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Why study abroad?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Why study abroad?

One of the mistakes I made when I was in college was deciding to spend all four years on campus rather than going overseas for at least one semester.

It seems that MIT has traditionally had a lot of students like me — people who decide they can best fulfill their educational goals by staying put once they arrive at their alma mater.

Last year MIT published a task force report (pdf) on how to update and enhance the school's undergraduate program. This report, the result of two-and-a-half years of work, includes a long section on what to do about study abroad.

In the task force's view, the goals of MIT's foreign study programs should be providing students with:
  1. a better awareness of problems on a global scale, including but not limited to problems that relate to their individual field of study

  2. the opportunity to understand professional problems within their cultural context, illustrating that other cultures may attach different priorities to these problems and their solutions

  3. explicit exposure to different educational and research systems, gaining the understanding that those systems can provide equally serious approaches to knowledge

  4. the opportunity to take a break from MIT, allowing students to step back from their day-today education and understand its deeper value
Obviously, these goals will be met only if students are spending significant time doing serious academic and practical work, and not just devoting themselves to extracurricular activities and pastimes. How to ensure that time spent overseas is well-used is a subject I'll come back to.


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