Educating Leaders for the Global Community

We have covered minority student participation in study abroad programs over the years and although participation rates have not increased dramatically, much is being done within higher education to make such opportunities more accessible.

As writer Reginald Stuart reports in “Stepping Up to Study Abroad,” international study was once considered a luxury for affluent students. Not necessarily anymore as increasingly, colleges are working with all students to find the resources to get a taste of the international experience. Colleges such as Goucher in Baltimore have even made studying abroad a graduation requirement.

Although the number of U.S. students going abroad pales in comparison to the number of foreign students that come to the United States to pursue a higher education, it appears that with each passing year more American students are embracing the concept of study abroad if not as a routine, at least realistic component of the college experience. Post 9/11 young people really do “get it,” that it’s important to be familiar with other cultures, and perhaps even speak another language fluently. Furthermore, the thought of spending time on another continent does not seem as daunting now as it did even 20 years ago, with the pervasive use of the Internet, cell phones, etc.; the world truly feels smaller and more connected.

“I would recommend study abroad to every student. It opens up your eyes,” says Howard University senior LaTasha Crutcher, who spent a semester in Spain. “We can’t be leaders in the global community with just an American point of view.”

Exactly, so imagine if you were given a year-long fellowship to go pretty much anywhere in the world to discover your passions and research interests. This is essentially what Watson fellows are allowed to do. For almost 40 years, a select group of recent college graduates, through an application process, are chosen to do just this based on their research proposals. And even though they must submit a proposal to be considered, recipients are not required to produce a research project at the end of their fellowship. But they usually do.

“You have to understand that these kids are Type A high-achievers who are gung-ho about their projects,” says Rosemary Macedo, executive director of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. “When considering applicants, we stress maturity, character and integrity.”

Read more about past and current Watson fellows in “Test-driving Their Passions” by Diverse correspondent Noah Davis. Africana studies is going international. Senior writer Ronald Roach profiles Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Africana Studies in “Taking Flight Internationally.” Led by Dr. Ben Vinson III, a specialist in Latin American history, the center has taken on an even greater internationalist orientation, reports Ron.

“I have always been someone who has looked at Latin America through a distinct racial lens — through the lens of Blackness,” Vinson says.

Read more about JHU’s center as well as the trend among Black studies programs to broaden their focus to increasingly include people of African descent in the Americas and the Caribbean.

 

–Hilary Hurd Anyaso

 

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