Generation Study Abroad

Sonoma State University Joins Institute of International Education Coalition to Double Number of Students Who Study Abroad by End of Decade

“Studying abroad is one of the best ways American college students can acquire international experience necessary to succeed in today’s global marketplace. According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange, 295,000 American college students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. While that may sound like a lot, it in fact represents less than 10% of the 2.6 million students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year,” Institute of International Education. It is clear that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience that could soon be a necessity to advance their careers and participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues.

To address this deficiency, the Institute of International Education has created the Generation Study AbroadTM initiative by “bringing employers, governments, associations, and others together to build on current best practices and find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities to tens of thousands of college students for whom traditional study abroad programs aren’t working.” Sonoma State University has pledged to join this initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade by committing to increasing the number of undergraduate students who study abroad from around 80 students yearly to 160 over the next five years. “In today’s world, individuals, businesses, and organizations must collaborate and compete not only locally and regionally, but globally. As a public institution serving the people of California, Sonoma State University must think and act strategically in response to this demand,” Dean Mark Merickel, School of Extended & International Education.

“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” says Dr. Allan Goodman, President of IIE. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”

Sonoma State University is among the lead partners who have committed to specific, measureable actions that will help reach this ambitious goal; the result will be thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world. Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million of its own funds to this initiative over the next 5 years. SSU also hopes to increase student participation in study abroad opportunities over the next 10 years by increasing the number of study abroad programs and locations available for students to choose from, growing the number of study abroad scholarships offered, and strengthening the academic benefits of studying abroad through working with schools and departments on campus.

“Through the creation of the Center for International Education, Sonoma State University has recognized that in an increasingly interconnected world, there is a vital need to advance the exchange of knowledge and understanding between global cultures. This new center will create a strong international community at SSU involving both domestic and international students in a place dedicated to developing intercultural understandings of human similarities and global interdependence,” Dean Mark Merickel, School of Extended & International Education.

Sonoma State University emphasizes the importance of global awareness and believes that a study abroad experience enhances a student’s global outlook and overall education. Currently, SSU offers two study abroad program options, though it is one of the written commitments to grow the number of opportunities within ten years. One of the program options is CSU International Programs, which around 60 to 80 students participate in yearly. (For more information on CSU International Programs, click here.) Additionally, SSU utilizes the National Student Exchange university consortium to increase study abroad opportunities for students through NSE Study Abroad, through which approximately 20 students are participating in this coming academic year.

More than 240 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states have already signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment. In California, schools that have joined SSU in this pledge are: California Lutheran University; CSU East Bay; CSU Long Beach; Santa Barbara City College; UC Berkeley; UC Davis; UC Irvine; UC Riverside; UC San Diego; and UC Santa Barbara. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and several foreign governments, as well as key higher education associations and study abroad provider organizations, have also pledged to support the goals of the initiative. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is also actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community. The next round of commitment partners will be announced by IIE in May.

For more information on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, and a complete list of commitment partners, go to: www.iie.org/generationstudyabroad.