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KU partners with Institute of International Education to increase study abroad participation

Thu, 03/06/2014

LAWRENCE — Already recognized as a national leader in study abroad, the University of Kansas has set a goal to significantly increase undergraduate participation in study abroad from 22.8 percent to 30 percent over the next five years. As part of that effort, KU is one of 156 charter members to partner with the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad Initiative, a five-year plan launched earlier this week to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad.

Generation Study Abroad will engage educators and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to increase the annual number of U.S. study abroad participants to 600,000 by 2020. IIE has committed $2 million to this initiative over the next five year and has established a Study Abroad Fund to provide scholarships to college students and grants to institutions.

“Our partnership with IIE will result in more KU graduates who have studied abroad and gained invaluable experience that will translate well in today’s global economy,” said Susan Gronbeck-Tedesco, associate vice provost for International Programs. “Our goal is not only to boost participation but to increase the number of students who participate in semester-long experiences. We will be working closely with departments across campus to meet this goal, in particular to integrate study abroad into curriculums to fulfill the KU Core.”

The KU Core, KU's first universitywide undergraduate curriculum, supports the university’s ambitious study abroad participation goals. The KU Core allows students to meet educational goals and learning outcomes while engaging in experiential learning, including new cultural experiences. Many study abroad opportunities will fulfill the Culture and Diversity learning outcome.

With 130 programs in countries, ranging from India to France, students have a wide variety of study abroad opportunities to choose from. KU is currently ranked 29th in the nation among public universities for undergraduate participation in study abroad, according to the 2011-12 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Additionally, financial aid opportunities make international experiences attainable for more students. Students’ financial aid is applicable to study abroad programs, and most KU scholarships and grants can be applied to study abroad.

According to a 2012 Open Doors report, only 10 percent of students who graduated with an associate's or baccalaureate degree participated in a study abroad experience. Although 156 higher education institutions from 41 states have already signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment, IIE hopes to expand institutional commitment to 500 in order to increase this percentage. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community. 

“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” says Allan Goodman, president of IIE. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”

By partnering with IIE, KU can work with institutions around the nation to raise awareness about the importance of foreign language and cultural skills, identify and break down the barriers to study abroad participation, share best practices to increase international experiences among students and mobilize additional financial resources for study abroad. 



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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.


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