Behold the World
HHS Leads, Grows Study Abroad

Stephanie Kuo, a senior in dietetics/nutrition, fitness and health, enjoys tea and scones in Oxford, England.

Stephanie Kuo, a senior in dietetics/nutrition, fitness and health, enjoys tea and scones in Oxford, England. (Photo provided by Stephanie Kuo)

Liping Cai likes to start off the fall semester by asking freshmen in the College of Health and Human Sciences if they plan to study abroad sometime during their college career. His question is always greeted by a sea of hands raised in the air.

“The interest in study abroad by our students, especially as freshmen, is overwhelming if not 100 percent,” says Cai, associate dean for diversity and international programs and a professor in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “Yet by the time they graduate, the lack of a global experience will be a regret for many. In the past, I think we as educators and parents have not always been as urgently sensitive to the increasing global connectivity as our students.”

But that’s all changing.

The University’s new initiative Purdue Moves is fueling a plan to dramatically increase the number of students engaging in an international study experience. Specifically, the University plans to double the number of students studying abroad, with an emphasis on programs of a semester or longer.

Last year, HHS had 256 students study abroad, a 27 percent increase over the previous year — and the biggest gain among all Purdue colleges in the number of students who participated in study abroad. Despite the increase, this still represents only about 6 percent of the college’s undergraduate population.

More Support for Study Abroad

Through Purdue Moves, the University is making study abroad as cost-neutral as possible by increasing scholarships and financial aid. Students receive $3,000 for a semester or yearlong credit program; $2,000 for a six-week credit program; and up to $1,000 for a shorter-term credit program. Students can combine two international programs and receive up to $5,000.

In line with the University’s efforts, HHS is developing its global learning initiatives to support and grow study abroad participation within the college. According to Cai, each academic unit in HHS has developed or will develop one signature faculty-led, short-term program and one semester-long exchange program. In addition, the college will:

  • Promote study abroad as an integral part of a student’s academic life and professional development.
  • Encourage study abroad when developing each student’s plan of study.
  • Focus on study abroad courses that satisfy requirements for a student’s major.
  • Diversify study abroad options such as credit-earning international internships and service learning.
  • Reward and recognize faculty and staff who champion study abroad.
  • Increase the availability of scholarships and sponsorship for students and designate funds and seek external support for study abroad programming and operation.

“In the past, it was not uncommon for study abroad to be considered extra or optional, although increasingly less so by students themselves,” Cai says. “However, the benefits of study abroad are well-documented, and I have seen them manifested among our students. I am always gratified and energized to see their greater appreciation for who they are and what they have as Americans, and even a greater degree of empathy toward the international students on campus.”

He adds that students who had international experiences are more likely to seek and get employment opportunities overseas immediately upon graduation than those who did not.

“Becoming a global worker is a reality for the study abroad students and not just wishful thinking,” Cai says.


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