Magazine article University Business

Study Abroad Has Global Benefit

Magazine article University Business

Study Abroad Has Global Benefit

Article excerpt

EVER SINCE A UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE PROFESSOR TOOK EIGHT students to France in 1923, study abroad has been touted as a way to expand a student's understanding of the world.

Most research on the benefits of study abroad has focused on the individual benefit to participants, such as language acquisition. "There is a lot of anecdotal evidence about [study abroad] experiences," says Gerald Fry, professor of International and Intercultural Education at the University of Minnesota. He and fellow professor Michael Paige recently completed research examining the long-term effects of study abroad and the benefits to "society at large."

The researchers surveyed 6,391 people from 22 higher education institutions who had studied abroad during the last 50 years. They found a high level of global engagement, which they define as civic engagement, philanthropy, knowledge production, social entrepreneurship, and voluntary simplicity.

Fry says there are generational differences, with more recent graduates showing a high level of volunteerism, while graduates from the 1960s and '70s are in a financial position to be philanthropic. "It was gratifying that study abroad attendees attributed these behaviors to study abroad. It was their perceptions," Fry says, adding that respondents' behavior reflects their attitudes. …

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