June 29, 2016

The 2016 Arcadia University Colloquium held during NAFSA was hosted by Dr. Jessie Guinn, Assistant Dean for STEM at The College of Global Studies. It centered around a discussion about connecting STEM students to the global scientific community.

The number of STEM students studying abroad has been steadily on the rise and now accounts for 22.6% of U.S. study abroad students according to the most recent IIE data. This is a positive trend in international education but the culture of study abroad and the clear communication of the benefits to such an experience is lacking on most campuses here in the U.S. Jessie was quoted as saying that " giants and biomedical research companies have long realized that innovation and discovery no longer originates directly from the R&D divisions and academic labs to society. It now takes a great deal of collaboration and working across and within cultures. STEM students engaging in an international experience connects them to the global scientific community earlier on and best prepares them for careers in the sciences."

Guests for the panel presentation included David Fearn from University of Glasgow, Camille George from St Thomas University (Minnesota), Chad Berry from the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, and Austin Beller who was a member of the inaugural STEM Summer Research Program group in Glasgow in 2014. The panel discussion was followed by a spirited question and answer session that included the 60 plus member audience that focused on the best practices for science program development abroad and promotion of these programs and opportunities to STEM students at both public and private institutions. One of the most notable points from the discussion was that the majority of study abroad/international offices promote and discuss study abroad with STEM students in the same fashion that they do with students from other, primarily Humanities, disciplinary backgrounds. This has been seen as largely unsuccessful by Camille George from St. Thomas who has a more targeted and attractive approach for promotion of international opportunities for her engineering students that are more interested in the hard and soft skill acquisition rather than just the cultural and novel experience.