Microfinance in Bangladesh, women's issues in El Salvador and Israel, criminal justice in the Netherlands, child welfare in Guatemala and health and human services in China are a few of the study abroad topics offered this year by the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences award-winning International Studies program.
Talking about prior travel-study experiences, International Studies coordinator Deborah Jacobson said, "Movies and books could not have prepared me last year for the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and impact of seeing so many people in India."
Traveling abroad opens up the world as a classroom.
"It's a powerful experience that students cannot get in a classroom," said Jacobson, who organizes trips to have students experience the new cultures and meet people in their everyday living and work situations.
Students see firsthand how solutions to social issues are met differently by each country with its particular value system. The experience is designed for students to come back with new perspectives and ways of approaching the social issues they might encounter in their classrooms or work in the United States.
Enrollment for the three-credit elective travel/study courses is underway. Continuing Education Units (CEU) are offered to alumni, who take advantage of the learning abroad opportunities. The trips have an interdisciplinary approach to provide students in many fields from nonprofit management, political science, religion, economics, law, public health to social work with experiential learning opportunities.
Students are required to do some pre-trip prep work and attend meetings. Upon returning each students is required to complete a project and presentation.
According to Jacobson, assistant professor of social work, students have course options during winter break, spring break and after school ends in late May.
The first Mandel School trip is scheduled December 6-14, to El Salvador and is held in partnership with International Partners in Mission. Soad Mansour, Mandel School field faculty adviser and director of the Office of International Affairs and adviser to Local International Konnections (LINK), will lead the group on visits to nonprofit social service organizations and in discussions about women and economic development in a third world country.
Bangladesh is a new destination for the Mandel School, which will travel with students from Southern Illinois School of Social work. It is sponsored in conjunction with Bangladesh's Independent University. Students will travel between December 27 and January 11, 2009. An on-the-ground look at how micro financing, which are small non-collateral loans, can build an economy in a developing country. During the Bangladesh trip, students will met with 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunas and discuss the Grameen Bank, which has been recognized for creative efforts in the social and economic arena. Jacobson and Prenab Chatterjee from the Mandel School will travel with the students.
Three trips are planned during spring break to Israel, the Netherlands and Guatemala.
Offered in partnership with the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, the Jewish Agency and Hebrew University, the Israel trip is also a new course for students. From March 5-15, travelers will learn more about the country through the program, "Modern Israel: Women's Health Issues in a Multicultural Society." In particular, students will study ISHA: The Israel Health Advancement for Women, an initiative launched in 2001 to change the health outcomes for the country's women. Jacobson will be the faculty leader on this trip.
The Mandel School will return to Guatemala and offer students a glimpse into child welfare and community development issues and how they are resolved in a Central American country. Zoe Breen-Wood will lead this group, March 6-15.
Since the International Studies program's inception, Netherlands has provided a global classroom for university students and has grown to offer four different focuses on social issues: health/aging policy and practice, mental health issues and practice, criminal justice/violence prevention and survey of the Netherlands (undergraduate only course). The trip takes place March 6-15.
China is the final trip for the Mandel School, May 21 to June 1, and takes place in partnership with the Southern Illinois School of Social Work and the Center for Discovery Learning. Students will learn about the different aspects of modern-day life in rural and urban China, with an examination of their social and economic issues. Then they will examine how the societal and economic issues influence how individuals, families and communities function.
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