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Students benefit from programs off campus

Off-campus study opportunities

National Student Exchange (NSE)

U undergrads can participate in an exchange with one of more than 200 member institutions within the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Students participate in NSE to learn about a new culture and language, pursue an internship or explore life in a particular area of a country, or attend one of 13 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

Improving language skills through cultural immersion

Alexander Hellweg, a political science/journalism double major with a Spanish minor, discovered NSE while exploring options for studying in a Spanish-speaking environment. He says, “My Spanish improved greatly while taking classes at the University of Puerto Rico, and I had the opportunity to take a number of political science classes that I wouldn’t have been able to take at the U. NSE was incredibly affordable and provided wonderful opportunities to increase cultural awareness.”

Enjoying the great outdoors

Matthew Smith, a pre-engineering/material science major, chose to attend the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. “Alaska is really hard to beat if you love outdoors activities,” he says. “Fairbanks is 30,000 people and Alaska’s second biggest city, so the community on campus is tight knit. There are also a ton of opportunities for research, jobs, and interesting extracurricular opportunities that are specific to the arctic region.”

Personal growth

Xai Lee, an international business major, studied at California State University San Bernardino in fall 2008. “Growing up with seven siblings, I rarely had time to reflect on me,” she says. “I wanted an opportunity to learn about myself, take a small break from my family, and discover more about my abilities. I also thought NSE would be a good springboard to eventually studying abroad by allowing myself to experience initial culture shock and homesickness in my own country first.”

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Charles Helm, a Ph.D. candidate in counseling and student personnel psychology, chose to attend Tennessee State University during his sophomore year because, he says, “I always dreamed of going to school with scholars who looked like me. However, I knew my parents could not afford to send me to an HBCU for four years. I became more self-aware through my NSE experience.”

See Off-Campus Study Programs for more information.

Lives Worth Living: Questions of Self, Vocation, and Community

May session

Laura Kosowski, an organic horticulture major, chose to participate in the four-week residential course PHIL 4326 because, she says, “I wanted to find a place where I could immerse myself in a close-knit intentional community.”The course brings together instructors and students to create community on the prairie near Windom, Minnesota. Community members cook and eat meals together daily, getting to know the land, living simply while exploring how to lead good lives in a world that requires constant adaption to local and global challenges.

“Storytelling forms the foundation for our learning, teaching students to learn from their own experiences and from those of the community members who surround them,” Kosowski says. “Everyone teaches, everyone learns.” See Philosophy Camp for more information.

Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs Programs (HECUA)

HECUA uses community-based learning to bridge theory and practice, develop skills, and build just communities. Programs include field experiences, readings, class discussion, and an internship experience. Four 16-credit programs on themes of poverty and social justice, arts, writing, and environmental sustainability are offered in the Twin Cities. Two summer session programs are also offered in the United States in sustainable food systems and civil rights.

Environmental Sustainability (ES), fall semester

Natalie Reece, an environmental science, policy, and management major, learned about the ES program her first year at the U. She says, “I walked away from the semester with a new way to look at the world and how it works or doesn’t work. I also learned how to ‘resist despair.’ I learned that learning and teaching are not separate and that they don’t only take place in lecture halls or textbooks.”

Natalie’s mother, Gina Frank, noticed changes in her daughter that she attributes to the program. She says, “I think [Natalie] learned something very powerful: that individuals can make a difference and influence the public discourse and policy-making around these very important issues for the planet, locally and globally.”

Civil Rights: History and Consequences, May session

This program examines critical perspectives such as the practice and philosophy of nonviolence, legal and human rights, and public work frameworks for social change. The program connects history with current political struggles around poverty, education, race and class.

Visits to various cities, museums and historical sites, as well as interviews with leaders of the movement, help frame the experience.

Moira Pirsch, an English major, participated in HECUA’s Civil Rights program during May session 2010. Moira’s blog post on June 14 captures the essence of the program: “Today was our first full day in Memphis. In the morning, we made our way to the Civil Rights History Museum (formerly the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King was assassinated). My experience at the museum was moving to say the least. I don’t know, there is something about being there, an arm’s reach away from the spot where this man, who not only was an amazing leader, but a father, husband, friend, minister, a man, who didn’t want to die, was killed...life is too fragile sometimes...this struggle is nowhere near over and the burden is on our shoulders to improve it (even if we get a fraction of what they did done).”

To learn about domestic off-campus study options, visit Off-Campus Study Programs. Visit the Learning Abroad Center to explore HECUA International programs to Northern Ireland or Scandinavia.