Equal Exchange: Human Ecology Expands Its International Programs for Students

By Berkowitz, Kenny | Human Ecology, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

Equal Exchange: Human Ecology Expands Its International Programs for Students


Berkowitz, Kenny, Human Ecology


It didn't take long for Justine Lee '14 to see she'd made the right choice. "Even on my first day, I could tell this program was going to be really great," said Lee, a fashion design senior who studied abroad at Hong Kong Polytechnic University last spring. "For orientation, there were 300-plus exchange students in this big auditorium, and I knew it was the place for me. I'd done a lot of research and heard so much about the school. I was just so excited to be there, and it turned out to be the best five months of my life. By far."

During that first week, Lee started traveling around the city, meeting classmates from all over the world, and taking courses in fashion, costume studies, and elementary Mandarin. By the time she left, she'd finished a series of complex assignments, taken trips to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, and gained new perspectives on life and design. "To live for five months in a foreign country opened my eyes, showed me what's really out there," said Lee. "It really breaks you out of whatever mold you might be in and makes you more of an open thinker."

She's not alone. Since 2006, when HKPU welcomed its first Fiber Science & Apparel Design student, the college's exchange programs have grown dramatically, with students attending the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia; Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand; Seoul National University and Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea; and Academie Charpentier, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, and Ecole Superieure des Arts Appliques Duperre in Paris, France. In a typical semester, up to nine Human Ecology students travel abroad, with an equal number of students from the college's exchange partners coming to Ithaca.

Within the next year, Pauline Morin, director of undergraduate exchange programs, hopes to finalize additional agreements with universities in France, Italy, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland. "The program is exploding, and in the next two or three years, I think it's going to double," said Morin, who teaches a Cornell Summer Sessions course that travels through Rome, Bologna, Florence, Mantua, and Venice. (This summer the college will offer for the first time a study-abroad course on population dynamics, taught by professors Matthew Hall, Dan Lichter, Sharon Sassler, and Laura Tach through Cornell in Turin. …

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