U.S. Department of State Grant Fortifies Study Abroad Program
Ursinus is one of 34 colleges and universities in 28 states to be awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS) Program, which aims to develop and expand study abroad programs around the world.
The grant will expand study abroad opportunities, increase the total number of students studying abroad, and foster participants’ diversity by funding the implementation of short-term, faculty-led trips to South Korea and Mexico.
The new programs will address two U.S. foreign policy goals: human rights and public health. The trip to Seoul, South Korea, will take place immediately following the end of the spring semester in 2024 and will be led by Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Kelly Sorensen and Assistant Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities and Associate Dean for Civic Learning Christian Rice. Students will take a three-week course, “Global Perspectives in Human Rights: Wrongful Conviction,” as well as observe trials and visit human-rights organizations working on behalf of the wrongfully accused.
Rice has directed the Ursinus Bonner Program since 2008 and was instrumental in the creation of UCARE, the Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility, and Engagement. His scholarly writing has focused on examining the philosophical and moral underpinnings of human rights discourse.
For Sorensen, it will be a return the city in which he lived for two years between his first and second years of college. “The people, the food, the culture—it was all amazing,” he said. “Students on this trip to Seoul will enjoy some amazing bibimpap and soondubu, but more importantly they will learn more about the way developments and debates about human rights are playing out in Korea and its East Asian neighbor countries.”
The trip to Mérida, Mexico, will occur during the 2024-25 winter break. There, students will take a three-week “Global Health” course, during which they will examine the public and private health-care systems of Mexico; and mainstream and traditional care in urban and rural settings. They will also study, from a cross-cultural perspective, local prevailing health issues and actions to manage and contain infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and HIV.
“These two programs are a door to having a more inclusive campus and providing real access to underrepresented populations,” said Director of International Programs Paula Álvarez Tamés.
For students who are hesitant to travel abroad, short-term international experiences can be more appealing because faculty and staff are on hand to provide support, travel arrangements are taken care of by the college, and visas typically are not required. “The full process supports a lot more of the students, which means we are more likely to recruit students who are afraid to go oversees,” said Álvarez Tamés. “This is a good step for them to get their toes wet.”
Each 21-day program will be worth three credits and will fulfill the XLP (Experiential Learning Project) component of the Quest core requirements.
Both trips are open to students in all majors and students in all class years, including first-year students. Applications for the trip to Seoul open at the beginning of the fall semester.
The IDEAS Program contributes to the State Department’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts to engage the American people in foreign policy.
Since 2016, the IDEAS Program has awarded 179 grants to 173 U.S. colleges and universities in 49 states and territories to create, expand, and diversify their U.S. study abroad programs in 71 countries across all world regions.