Study abroad at BW growing through faculty-led programs

An upcoming study abroad fair is adapting to growing interest on campus by featuring five faculty-led programs that are brand new to Baldwin Wallace University for the Spring of 2021.

The new trips will offer BW students more opportunities than ever to study abroad, including a recently developed spring break trip.

Student interest is one of the main reasons for the expansion of the study abroad program.

Christie Shrefler, director of study abroad/explorations, said they joined national initiative Generation Study Abroad in 2014. Since then, they have increased the number of students participating in study abroad from 15% to 39%.

“So within five years, we’ve really doubled, over doubled, you know, our numbers, and just continuing to keep the positive, forward moving traction,” Shrefler said. “It’s been exciting to see the campus culture shift. And so we kind of want to keep that going. And so one way to do that is through faculty-led programs.”

The seven trips that are featured at the faculty-led study abroad fair will be the most ever offered, said Shrefler. The unique new spring break student swap opportunity is also available within these new programs.

BW has never offered a spring break study abroad trip before. The trip itself, UK Sports Sciences, is also new, said Shrefler.

“We’re just trying to think creatively about how we can access more students, you know?,” she said.

“We’ve been finding that some students just need to either work during the summer or take additional classes, or they need to go home,” said Shrefler. “And so sometimes the May time doesn’t actually work for everyone. And spring break, we thought, well, let’s give it a try.”

The trip features a full semester course with the travel portion during the week of spring break.

Kevin Sullivan, the study abroad leadership in higher education intern, said the spring break trip is also a student swap program. For one week, 15 BW students will be sent to York and 15 students from York will be attending BW to work on a project.

These unique new trips are an effort to offer more creative solutions for students to travel who would not have been able to fit it into their schedule otherwise. It also exemplifies the growth of study abroad programs on BW’s campus.

Expanding the number of students and majors that programs reach to keep study abroad growing is another reason for the increase in trips.

“Specifically, for the upcoming years, we are growing these faculty led programs to kind of fit students majors that don’t traditionally go abroad,” Sullivan said. “For instance, we’ve got Discovering London and Glasgow going, which is an Education course and an English course, which typically aren’t offered.”

Sullivan said that passionate faculty who promote their trips to their students is another way that study abroad has gained traction on campus.

“I think for a globalized world that we live in, students understand that a study abroad experience great for their resume and for cross-cultural understanding,” he said.

The study abroad office is located on the second floor of the student union. For more information or questions regarding the programs, email explore@bw.edu or visit https://www.bw.edu/academics/study-abroad/.