April 13, 2018
By Dr. Jessie Guinn, Assistant Dean of STEM

There are many semester, summer, and short-term programs available for students who would like study beyond our shores and borders. These programs start to become limited in number when it comes time to select the best program for your students who would like to take STEM courses while abroad. This is due in large part to the rigidity of most STEM curricula here in the U.S. that typically leaves little to no room for a study abroad experience without planning from both the student and advisors alike.

My role as Assistant Dean of STEM is unique in the field and has allowed me to work with study abroad and international professionals like yourselves to assist in successfully getting your STEM students in the best and most appropriate programs abroad. I work closely with our Institutional Relations team to connect and collaborate with you on all matters related to the sciences and engineering.

Having a discussion with your offices that includes faculty helps me to get an understanding of your international goals and the standards and expectations you have for your students. This includes, but is not limited to, the numbers of STEM students that you would like to send abroad, the level and or research focus of institutions at which you would like them to study, and opportunities for them to engage in independent research.

The next step is for us to select the courses that they will be allowed to take abroad. This will then determine the most appropriate time of the academic year for your students to study abroad. Often, this can be in the fall, spring, or summer of the sophomore or junior year.

Once all this information has been settled on and collected, I then go to my “drawing board” and carefully curate a short list of institutions from our portfolio of over 120 programs that closely meets all the criteria set forth by your individual institutions’ high academic, experiential, and student service standards. Accompanying this highlighted list of programs will be curriculum matching forms that include all the syllabi for courses that they can take abroad. The syllabi can then be reviewed and approved by faculty and staff so that students can get the appropriate credit to stay on track for graduation and be prepared for the next courses in their curriculum sequence.

The College has been successfully working to help broaden students’ experiences in STEM education and research abroad for a number of years now. This has been achieved by connecting institutions and students to semester, summer, custom, and independent research programs. I eagerly look forward to this curation and curriculum matching process as it allows me to make good use of my science background to develop well-defined pathways for your students to study abroad.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me or the member of the Institutional Relations team that you work with if you would like to know more about our STEM efforts, would like to approach us with an idea of your own, or to have us begin working on a solution for your own efforts. My colleagues and I look forward to continuing or starting this work with you soon.