Classes near the coast of Western India and service learning in South Africa are two of the many new semester abroad offerings that await UM students for the spring semester.
The International Exchange and Education Programs categorize these opportunities in Cusco, Peru; Manipal, India; and Cape Town, South Africa, respectively, as UM Semesters-on-Location. UM students participate and study together at an overseas institution with UM faculty members leading the group and teaching courses for UM credit.
UM Semesters complement classes with field trips to neighboring regions, and students live in dormitories or apartments depending on the location.
UCusco’s program requires that students take nine credits distributed in Latin American Studies and languages. The program begins with a two-week orientation course “Andean Cultures and Societies” taught by Marten Brienen, the director of Academic Programs in Latin American Studies. He guides a group of 15 students through Lima and Cusco, introducing them to the indigenous populations in these cities.
Students then take a course that features field trips to locations like Machu Pichu and Ollantaytambo. These excursions are complemented by a language course in Spanish, Spanish literature or Quechua, a language that has roots with the Incan civilization.
UM has partnered with the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL) to allow students to take electives that can satisfy general requirements in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The courses are taught in English by USIL faculty.
Sophomore Billy Farrell said he is considering participating in the UCusco program next year.
“I get to use my Spanish knowledge but the classes are still in English,” he said. “I want to experience a different culture and see some things I’ve only ever read about, like Machu Picchu.”
Applications are due Nov. 1.
For an introduction to Indian culture and an exploration of the country’s growing role in global affairs, students can participate in the UIndia study abroad program.
Sanjeev Chatterjee, an award-winning documentarian and professor in UM’s School of Communication, will travel with the students.
UIndia began in spring 2013 and is based out of Manipal University in the college town of Manipal. The particular region and institution were chosen to allow for an easy adjustment and because of its high academic standards, Chatterjee said.
“It’s an opportunity for students to really find another window to look at the world through. It’s a different point of reference,” he said.
All students studying abroad in India will take the three-credit course “India as an idea: an introduction to India’s place in the contemporary world.” Co-taught by Chatterjee and Manipal University faculty, the class will include two weeks of travel throughout several regions of India.
Chatterjee stressed India’s diversity and global importance as unique aspects of the program.
“We talk a lot about diversity in the American context, but India is too,” he said. “If you take a look at any Indian currency you’ll see that there are 15 official languages.”
The UIndia program is meant to be a broad-based program for students of all academic disciplines, Chatterjee said. Additional courses offered by Manipal University include Indian Philosophy, World Peace in a Nuclear Age and Medical Biotechnology.
Religious, political and business leaders in India will interact face to face with UM students, and there are also opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, especially in public health courses.
“They’ll be actually working with Indian schools in villages and working in clinics and villages and hospitals,” Chatterjee said.
Applications are due Nov. 1.
Richard Grant, a UM geography professor, helped develop the UCape Town program after seeing the impact South Africa had on students who went over the summer.
Grant also teaches the required UM course “Emerging South Africa in the African Context” that introduces students to the country’s role in Africa. The course couples lectures in the classroom with a mandatory service learning experience in which students work with local organizations in nature conservation, youth development, women’s issues and public health.
“If you help with these big social issues, engaging and working in these communities is a good first step,” Grant said.
Beyond this required course, students have more flexibility and can choose from most courses offered at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Students from any discipline are encouraged to apply.
UCape Town incorporates its own travel experiences. These include living with a South African family and visiting a nearby wildlife reserve, according to Grant.
“It is the first step to experience Africa,” he said. “Students will get to see everything from the urban and developed areas to the wild wilderness.”
Students will live in houses adjacent to the university and may have one or two South African or African students living with them, Grant said.
Grant’s goal for the program is for students to gain an understanding of South Africa and appreciate its cultural diversity.
“They will come back to UM much more prepared in African history and culture,” he said.
Applications for travel in spring 2014 will be available next fall.