Globalizing Education: A Model for Study Abroad Programs for Landscape Design Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

A study abroad program in Italy for landscape design majors at South Dakota State University (SDSU) was successfully conducted in the summer of 2002. A three-week two-credit course was developed as a part of a larger university-wide program to promote globalization of the curricula. With the support of the university's President, a faculty member traveled to Italy on a planning trip in 2001. The purpose of the trip was multi-faceted information gathering for the establishment of the program. Nine students from the Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape, and Parks Department (HFLP) participated in the study abroad program. Results and comments from a post-course survey were positive, indicating that students were very satisfied with the program. This paper presents the experience of a successful international landscape design course providing prospective programs with a model for the establishment and implementation of similar courses.

Introduction

Friedman (1999) states that globalization is not a passing phenomenon, but rather the definitive world system. Thus, the United States needs its higher education sector to graduate individuals who can understand the global environment. Such a statement expresses not only the importance, but also the challenges of globalization in a world where understanding the international dimension of our lives is vital. One of the challenges facing higher education institutions is how to make its constituents aware of global interdependence and to prepare future citizens to function effectively in a global environment (NASULGC Strategic Vision Committee, 2000). In response to the challenge, expanding globalization of curricula becomes an integral part of the mission and strategic planning of land-grant higher education institutions. South Dakota State University, among other land-grant universities, strives to incorporate various forms of international components into its curricula. However weaving topics, sections, or a few lectures of internationally-related issues into curricula is not sufficient to provide students with understanding, compassion, and empathy for different global cultures (Crunkilton et al., 2003).

One of the most effective strategies is study abroad programs where students travel and study overseas for a period of time. With adequate academic and cultural orientation in the United States, study abroad programs can be influential in presenting students with life-changing opportunity. It is the intent of the author that presenting this example of a successful study abroad program as a model will provide guidance to other programs and institutions interested in establishing or expanding their overseas educational opportunities for their students and future citizens.

Methods

In an attempt to implement South Dakota State University's goals for promoting international awareness and education, the Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape and Parks Department established a study abroad program for Landscape Design majors. One faculty member was given the responsibility to plan, design, and conduct the program. The following points, though not intended to be exhaustive, outline the basic steps for establishing and implementing such a program.

Identifying University Infrastructure

The implementation of a new international education curriculum requires various types of support from the higher education institution. Thus, to ensure support at the university and college levels, the goals and objectives of the landscape design study abroad program were designed to fall within the institution's mission statement and strategic planning framework. This was critical since the success of the study abroad program was dependent upon assistance provided by the institution's financial, administrative and human resources, and the feasibility of coordinating their work.

Identifying Program Leader

Acker and Taylor (2000) stated that the international experience of faculty members was central to providing students with a globalized learning environment and experience. …