Purdue Profiles: Laura Starr

November 3, 2015  

Laura Starr

Laura Starr, director for experiential learning and student success in the College of Science. (Photo provided)
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Laura Starr aids in the success of College of Science students by encouraging them to take part in experience-based, non-classroom activities that can transform the ways they view themselves and navigate the world. 

Starr is the director for experiential learning and student success in the College of Science. She works with two innovative programs within the college. The Learning Beyond the Classroom program allows college students to take their experiences outside the classroom and apply them toward a certificate that will enhance their marketability in the workplace. The Global Science Partners program brings domestic and international students together to participate in monthly dinners and cultural and service activities.  

Tell me about your professional background and how it's led you to where you are today.

I lived abroad in Jerusalem for 18 years. While there, I earned my MA and PhD in sociology.  I studied how an educational system develops the flexibility and transferable skills that a 21st century worker requires to succeed in the global marketplace. All of my past experiences from studying abroad and living abroad are bits and pieces of what make me love what I’m doing today.

Why do you encourage students to study abroad?

Study abroad is one of the types of activities that count toward the Learning Beyond the Classroom certificate. Studying abroad as an undergraduate student changed my life. This led me to living abroad. I believe that when students take the risk and challenge themselves to live on their own in a different culture, they develop into culturally competent individuals.  I love coaching students to get the most out of their experiences abroad.

What are your main roles in the Learning Beyond the Classroom program and the Global Science Partners?

After helping to develop the Learning Beyond the Classroom program, I became the administrator. I read the reports students submit on their activities and encourage them to elicit meaning from their experiences. College of Science students who earn the LBC certificate are recognized at graduation and the achievement is noted on their academic transcripts.

For Global Science Partners, I work alongside Terry Ham who runs the program's events. I teach a course, Global Science Leadership Seminar, to first-year students in the program. I participate in the monthly dinners and arrange for faculty to dine with students in the program. I work mostly behind the scenes in the organization and assessment of the Global Science Partners program.

How did you develop the idea for Global Science Partners?

We have seen a large influx of international students in the College of Science.  Two distinct cultures existed, domestic and international, and there was little interaction between the two groups. We had the opportunity to create a program that capitalized on this diversity and brought students together to learn about and from each other. In three years, we have seen openness and understanding grow among the participants and friendships abound.  

Writer: Aspen Deno, denoa@purdue.edu 

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