Study Abroad and Global Citizenship: A Match Made in Heaven

In a recent Inside Higher Ed article, Elizabeth Redden reports on groundbreaking research from this year’s NAFSA conference showcasing the strong correlation between study abroad and increased global citizenship. The study found that even short-term programs resulted in students demonstrating increased awareness and interest in cross-cultural issues.

Redden references Lisa Chieffo, Associate Director of the University of Delaware’s Center for International Studies, who conducted a study revolving around the question “What impacts (if any) does a month-long study abroad program have on students?” Chieffo surveyed more than 1,200 students, asking questions like “Being in an environment where I don’t understand the local language makes me nervous,” and “I am able to ascertain whether a member of the host culture is annoyed with me.” The results illustrated strong positive trends in students’ global engagement.

Chieffo affirms that “Something is going on in these short-term programs,” and this research further supports the notion that study abroad can have a significant impact on American students’ role in an increasingly globalized society. While Americans may be known as notoriously ethnocentric to those abroad, there is no better way to mold the next generation of leaders than by promoting international exposure among our students.

Hopefully efforts such as the Senator Simon Act can ensure that our students don’t only think outside the box, but that they bring their passports along and think outside our borders, too.