International and Domestic Off-Campus Studies Committee
Minutes of the Wednesday, April 18 IDOCS meeting at 3:30 p.m. in BC146
In attendance - Brian Borovsky, Scott Johnson, Karil Kucera, Jeane DeLaney, Dona Freeman, Kris MacPherson, Cate Redman, Kelin Loe, Katherine Barker, Eric Lund, Solveig Zemple
- CMRS review
- Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
- Oxford University, England
- Karen Marsalek gave an overview of her report and answered questions from the committee. This program gives students exposure to the Oxford tutorial system of study, which is more self-directed than our students may be used to. However, students experience of range of educational modes, including more traditional lecture classes. Students may receive harsher, more direct criticism from the instructors. Students need to maintain diversity in their course selections, especially if they go for a whole year. Juniors and Seniors constitute the majority of participating students. There are typically a total of 50 students from across North America, and they are housed together.
This program was approved for another ten years.
- Remarks from the director of IOS, Eric Lund
- Environmental studies in Australia could use more participants. Currently, 18 students are enrolled. Goal is to have about 24. Faculty were asked to help recruit interested students.
- A conference on international education will be held in the Twin Cities near the end of May, beginning of June.
- On May 25, university leaders from Taiwan, Korea, and other Asian countries will be visiting St. Olaf to learn about the residential liberal arts college system in America.
- On June 2, people from the international education conference will tour St. Olaf and Carleton College campuses.
- The MCS (multi-cultural studies) GE revisions will come before the faculty at the May faculty meeting. Interested faculty should take note of this and submit comments or questions to the GE committee. The relative emphasis on social science versus fine arts or natural sciences may be a point of special interest.
- Review of Budapest Semester in Mathematics
Cliff Corzatt gave an overview of his report and answered questions from the committee. The program is 22 years old. Hungary is a world leader in research in mathematics. Instructors teach in English. Four percent of mathematics Ph.D.’s granted in the U.S. go to alums of this intensive program. This is a flagship program for study abroad in mathematics, and there is only one other program that even comes close to offering this type of experience. The other program is in Russia, and St. Olaf has not pursued participation due to management problems within the program and other troubling issues. Typically, 3 to 4 St. Olaf students participate each year in Budapest. A total of 50-60 students from North America usually participate. Students receive a good amount of training in the Hungarian language, through an intense preparatory course. The extent to which students immerse themselves in the local culture varies widely. The emphasis of the program is on the study of mathematics, rather than on inter-cultural experience. However, the students live in the city in apartments, and they come to know a lot about the Hungarian culture through the necessities of getting around and living day to day. The students maintain a high degree of contact with Hungarian mathematicians throughout the semester, and come to know the distinct culture of mathematics they represent.
This program was approved for another 10 years.
- Review of Asian Studies 215: Asian Conversations II: Meeting Sojourners
Kathy Tegtmeyer-Pak gave an overview of her report and answered questions from the committee. Eric Lund asked about coordination with the staff that live in Japan and China. There was discussion of possible difficulties with variation in dialects among the sojourners. Students may not understand everything that is said. The fact that students need to meet this challenge was viewed as a beneficial component of the experience by several of those present. Discussion of the expense of the program and the stay-at-home (Twin Cities) option ensued. The faculty sponsoring the program are keenly interested in pursuing grants and scholarship funds to allow more students to go to Japan or China. The local option is identical in most ways, making use of the Asian community in the Twin Cities. For the abroad program, having the student stay exclusively in Japan or in China according to their language of study was seen as a very beneficial change from the previous version of the course, in which students spent some time in both countries. The on-site contacts and mentors are well-prepared to deal with any emergencies when the St. Olaf faculty are in the other country, and the St. Olaf staff will be able to fly between the two countries on short notice whenever that becomes necessary.
The issue of whether the local and abroad versions of this course will need different course numbers, or simply different section numbers, was discussed. The program sponsors will need to work with the registrar’s office to resolve this issue.
A general discussion period ensued, during which may committee members commended the sponsors for putting together a much improved and more detailed proposal than was available at the last meeting of IDOCS.
This program was approval for pilot status for interim 2009.
- Summer study abroad programs
A general discussion of the availability or development of summer study abroad opportunities occurred. Eric Lund relayed concerns from the IOS office regarding the lack of staff time available to handle the logistics, budgets and other details. It was noted that summer programs can be surprisingly expensive for students, if they don’t realize that there is tuition to pay in addition to the costs of going. Summer programs are desirable, however, and there was a general consensus to help foster them in some way. To begin, a list could be made of available external programs. This list could highlight the programs for which transfer credit is likely to be approved at St. Olaf. Another list that would be useful would show all the summer programs that St. Olaf students have taken in the past.
Solveig Zempel suggested that more summer programs could be run according to the model established by the Oslo Summer School. This program is approved by St. Olaf, so students receive regular course credit and can satisfy GE’s during the summer, but it does not rely heavily on IOS staff time. The program comes close to “running itself” in some ways.
The disadvantages students face with taking external summer abroad programs are that 1) they must transfer the credits, and only a limited number of credits can be transferred per student, and 2) transfer credits cannot satisfy GE requirements. These are two reasons to try having more “St. Olaf Approved” summer abroad offerings, and to try and figure out the staffing and logistical support issues.
It is expected that the most popular summer abroad programs will be in the area of foreign language study, including domestic off-campus study to learn a language before going on a foreign abroad program during the following academic year.
- The committee decided to meet again in two week’s time: Wed., May 2.
- The meeting was adjourned