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Students Going Global With Faculty-led Study Abroad Programs

International Partnerships Expand Global Learning Options

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Asst. Prof. Jana Sladkova, second from left. led a program for UMass Lowell students this summer at Charles University in Prague to study immigration issues in the U.S. and Central Europe. 

By Jill Gambon

Some college students started their summer breaks with beach days and downtime, but more than three dozen UMass Lowell students kicked off their summer by traveling overseas in four different faculty-led study abroad programs.

One group of students collaborated with peers at Hong Kong City University on research projects, heard first-hand about security operations at a recent Lady Gaga concert at the AsiaWorld-Expo entertainment complex and sampled local specialties like turtle jelly. In Beijing, others participated in business seminars, toured one of the world’s leading PC makers and visited the Great Wall of China. Another group studied Greek history in Athens, toured Grecian ruins and debated theories about the Battle of Marathon at the site of the famed clash. And in Prague, another group studied immigration issues at Charles University and attended lectures with Czech faculty. They cruised on the Vltava River and mastered the city’s public transportation system.

The faculty-led international programs are the result of the growing number of partnerships UMass Lowell has forged with universities around the world. The University has developed academic and research agreements with 90 universities in 35 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, North America and Australia.

“Our faculty-led study abroad programs are one example of the growing number of opportunities for global research and collaboration at UMass Lowell,” says Provost Ahmed Abdelal. “The rich array of international programs that combine rigorous academics with experiential learning and innovative research is preparing our students to become leaders in a global economy.”

Four faculty members led programs overseas this summer at international partner universities. Ethan Spanier, director of the Center for Hellenic Studies and a lecturer in the History Department, brought a group of nine students to the American College of Greece in Athens for an experiential learning program that combined readings of Greek and Roman historians in translation and then visits to the sites described in the texts. (See Spanier’s blog about the program, including photos)

Eleven students joined Asst. Prof. Jana Sladkova, director of Czech Republic institutional partnerships, in Prague to study immigration issues in the U.S. and Central Europe. Faculty from Charles University contributed to the program, which covered such topics as legal issues surrounding immigration, acculturation and discrimination. The  group also visited sites related to classroom discussions.

Stephen Saravara, director of international partnerships for Hong Kong and Macau and a lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, led a group that studied crime and security in the U.S. and Asia at City University Hong Kong.The students collaborated on research and case studies with peers at City University and visited with security professionals at HSBC Bank, the Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel, the Hong Kong Police Department and AsiaWorld-Expo, where they heard about security practices for a recent Lady Gaga concert (See photos of the Hong Kong trip).

Five Manning School of Business (MSB) students – three MBA candidates and two undergraduates – got an up-close look at some of the leading corporations in China as part of a summer course led by MSB Asst. Prof. Annie Yuansha Li. The course, “Doing Business in China,” was held at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT). It provided a comprehensive overview of modern China, covering business, economics, culture and the environment. During their two-week stay, the students participated in seminars and visited businesses like Baidu (China’s Google) and Microsoft Research Asia.

The intensive overseas classes provide hands-on experience that students cannot otherwise obtain, faculty members say.

“You cannot really learn in-depth about international business and strategy, cross-cultural management and global capital markets unless you enroll in a study abroad program that provides all these academic, cultural, historical and social components,” says Li. “I am very proud of my students who were thrown into a completely new culture and were observant, learned to mingle with the locals, studied hard, asked relevant questions and really benefited from this overseas experience.”