As coronavirus continues to impact Wisconsin, some colleges and universities are making changes to their study abroad programs for the Fall 2020 semester.
UW-Green Bay has suspended study abroad programs for the fall. Brent Blahnik, the director of International Education at UWGB, said prior to the pandemic, they were setting enrollment records in education abroad. He said they are constantly assessing the situation and trying to make decisions at the right time. They made decisions based on programs and how much time was needed for students to secure visas, make travel plans, and enroll in courses. He said they tried to wait to make decisions as late as possible, but with safety concerns, it just was not feasible to go.
UW-Oshkosh has suspended its spring study abroad program in South Korea. While UW-Green Bay has not suspended any international programs so far, two students will be impacted by Oshkosh’s decision, as UW System Universities work together to send students abroad. UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison have also suspended programs in South Korea. The decision was made with a focus on student safety. Read more via UW-Oshkosh suspends spring study abroad program in South Korea | NBC 26.
With the Spring 2020 semester underway, here are a few updates from the Office of International Education about upcoming travel courses. Please consider sharing this information with other faculty members or students.
Application deadlines for students to participate in UW-Green Bay’s upcoming travel course programs are quickly approaching. Below is a list of travel courses departing this summer 2020 that are still accepting students. Faculty interested in developing and/or leading a Travel Course in the future are encouraged to submit proposals by April 1 using the form available here.
Ecuador: Following the Inca Trail – This two and a half week course, led by Prof. Marcelo Cruz, will follow and survey the Inca trail throughout the Ecuadorean Andes. Students will learn the story of the Inca’s conquest and the impact that Spanish colonization had on the Inca Empire. Students will study Inca architectural style and Inca urban planning, as well as the relationship between settlement patterns and diverse ecological niches. The three upper level Environmental Policy and Planning credits can fulfill General Education requirements in Writing Emphasis, Global Culture, Social Science or Sustainability Perspective categories. More information is available here.
England: “The Oxford Imagination” – This month-long, six credit course being team-taught by Profs. Emily Ransom and Eric Morgan combines history, literature and creative writing into one phenomenal literary experience. The upper level English course can fulfill Writing Emphasis, Humanities or Global Culture General Education Requirements. More information is available here.
Portugal: European Innovation Academy – The European Innovation Academy is an extreme entrepreneurship accelerator program. Students from all over the globe form teams to take an idea to a tech start-up in 15 days. Students are mentored by global experts in IT, design, marketing, intellectual property and pitching. Students have access to investors (including some from Silicon Valley) to move dreams to reality. To be eligible for this program, students must participate in the UW-Green Bay Student Business Idea Competition or the Innovation in Aging Competition and meet with program leader, Prof. Ryan Kauth. More information is available here.
Florida: Ecology of the Florida Keys – UW-Green Bay students will travel to Marine Lab in Key Largo, Florida for seven full days of ecosystem study. Students will engage in discussions, fieldwork and plenty of snorkeling. This three credit Biology course can fulfill General Education Requirements in Biological Sciences, Natural Sciences or Sustainability Perspective. More information is available here.
France: Nutritional Science and Psychology –Students participating in this three credit program, taught by Profs. Deb Pearson and Georjeanna Wilson-Doenges, will learn about the connection between health and nature. Using electric-assist bicycles, participants will travel through the Provence region of France while delighting in farm-to-table cuisine, locally sourced wines and developing an understanding of the role food plays in culture. This upper level Nutritional Science and Psychology Course will fulfill either the World Culture or Sustainability General Education requirement. More information is available here.
Norway: Viking Reenactment & Living History – This three credit course, led by Profs. Heidi Sherman and Katie Walkner, give students the opportunity to study history and experimental archaeology by living as a Viking in Gudvangen, Norway. Students will learn Viking-age craft such as bone-working, nalbinding, storytelling, weaving, blacksmithing and leatherworking. This upper-level history course fulfills Writing Emphasis, Fine Arts, Ethic Studies, Humanities or Global Culture General Education Categories. More information is available here.
Slovakia: Community Health Nursing Practicum – This service-learning program, led by Profs. Becky Hovarter and Janet Reilly, allow students the opportunity to understand the cultural, social and health issues within the vulnerable Roma population of Slovakia. This course satisfies all requirements for the N455 Community Health Nursing practicum. More information is available here.
Spain: UWGB in La Rioja – This six credit program, led by Prof. Cristina Ortiz, will teach students about some of the most important cultural movements and historical events of Spain. Students will explore Madrid before moving on to the La Rioja region. More information is available here.
Italy, England, and Scotland: UWGB in Europe: Mysteries of the Bubonic Plague – This three credit travel course, led by Profs. Brian Merkel and Georgette Heyrman, will retrace the steps of The Black Death throughout the European continent. A focus of the course is to investigate the genetic resistance 1% of Caucasians have to HIV/AIDS and the relationship of this resistance to the plague epidemic that affected Europe during the Middle Ages. This course is offered as either upper-level or lower-level Human Biology and satisfies Biological Sciences, Sustainability Perspective or Global Culture General Education Requirements. More information is available here.
Included in the list of faculty-led programs departing this summer is the first-ever travel course to take place within the continental United States. The Office of International Education has authority to pilot some of these cost-recovery domestic programs. If you have ever considered developing a Travel Course to destination(s) within the United States, now may be the time to do it. Please reach out to Brent Blahnik at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Imagine walking in the shoes of such literary greats as T.S. Eliot, Oscar Wilde, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll; breathing in the urban and pastoral aura that inspired some of the greatest writing works of all time. For Emily Ransom’s students, there is no need for literary flights of fancy; they’ve lived the dream.
Every summer, Ransom, a UW-Green Bay assistant professor of humanities, leads a travel course to Oxford, England. This four-week, six-credit course explores fantasy literature and poetry of authors local to the region. While doing so, they travel to the places that inspired the works and also emulate these authors’ techniques in a creative poetry writing class. “It’s an English/Humanities course” Ransom explained. “We stay at a medieval college in the heart of the city and take many excursions in Oxford and the surrounding regions.”
A typical week during the course
Class time is in the morning. First up is fantasy literature with readings and discussions of Tolkien, Lewis, Carroll and other fantasy literature authors. The second class is creative writing—studying and imitating the form, content and style of such poetic greats as Eliot and Philip Larkin. The afternoon is tour time, filled with colleges, authors’ homes and museums. Twice a week, they take part in theatrical performances and concerts. Friday trips include castles, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath or Stonehenge. Weekends are free for students to create their own experience. London is only an hour away with access to Ireland and Europe just a train passage, a shockingly-cheap flight, or a Megabus trip away.
Free to do what they want on the weekends, students need to be accounted for by Sunday night when they reconvene in the campus churchyard for a poetry reading. Each student brings one poem written by an Oxford poet and one of their own.
The experience may not transform a student into a great poet, but it is still transformative. “It’s a fully-immersive experience,” said Ransom. “Our goal is to get the students to feel at home there; for them to feel like they belong in this intellectual hotbed of talent and literary tradition.”
The results? Brilliant!
“It was only a month, but it felt so much longer because we experienced so much,” said Hannah Majewski, an English major graduating in May 2020. “The history, pub culture, architecture, museums, authors’ homes…it was all so stunning. Every morning, I would wake up, sip on a cup of tea, and look out my dorm room window (at St. Edmund Hall —known fondly as Teddy Hall). I would gaze at the medieval well in the middle of the quad. It was so old, probably built in the late 1100s. It was awe-inspiring. To be a part of so much history and intellect, if only for a month, was unforgettable.”
Within Oxford and Cambridge (aptly called the Oxbridge system) lies a network of colleges. Wherever you go, there’s a college nearby. “University is all over the city,” said Ransom. “Oxford looks exactly like it is always imagined in the writings of its authors; the sculptures, rivers, pastorals, architecture. When you’ve spent time reading the stories by these authors, it offers a strange sense of being home.”
Oxbridge system is a small, tight-knit community, Ransom explained. It provides an atmosphere of chance encounters, story sharing and intellectual conversation. “Oxford is fun, bustling and saturated with culture and beauty,” she said. “The colleges throughout the city provide a lot of green spaces, so you also get a pastoral feel that creates a quiet place of refuge.”
For students like Majewski, experiencing such a profound sense of history and place not only inspired creativity, but also changed her life. “I have a deeper appreciation and greater understanding for not only the Oxford authors, their writing and the places that inspired them, but also for the connections that appreciation and understanding continues to create in my own life.”
For Professor Ransom, the student outcomes for the course transcend literary appreciation.
“I love watching the transformation in my students. It touches them on so many levels and creates a lasting impact on their lives. These lessons are souvenirs they will keep for a lifetime. On an educational level, students can make connections from a text they read and help them problem solve. On a social level, it impacts their global consciousness and empathy toward other cultures. On a metaphysical level, it transforms their inner selves.”
From Hannah Majewski’s perspective, she found traveling to another country and time a grounding experience, connecting her to her love of literature, history, imagination and creativity. “When I feel disconnected, thinking back to that experience grounds me. It had such an impact on me that just thinking about it…the beauty, the history, the reverence, the aura…it calms me and inspires me all at the same time.”
The College of Health, Education and Social Welfare, along with the Office of International Education, mourn the passing of long-time University friend and supporter, Palmira Torre. Over the past few decades, Torre and her family hosted hundreds of UW-Green Bay Education students at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico during the student-teaching semester and/or study abroad course. Torre was known for her outstanding culinary skills and her nurturing and caring demeanor. She has touched so many lives at UW-Green Bay and will be greatly missed by those who knew her.
Faculty, summer 2020 faculty-led travel course proposals are due to your academic dean by Tuesday, Oct. 1. The link to the proposal form and additional information can be found here. Late applications can be accepted, but please contact the Office of International Education. Leading a travel course is a great way to connect with students, teach a unique course and travel! The Office of International Education is here to assist with planning, connections and other logistics for your program. If you are interested in leading a course but need additional information or have questions about your options, please contact Jemma Lund, Assistant Director of Study Abroad, at email@example.com.
This is a reminder the Office of International Education would like to talk to your class about study abroad. Meetings are only 5-10 minutes (or another length if desired) and cover any specific topics your students may be interested in. The schedule will be finalized this week. If you are interested in a presentation, please contact Jemma Lund, assistant director of study abroad at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, Sept. 6 with preferred dates and times and course names. Any messages received after Sept. 6 will be added as possible.
Students on a faculty-led travel course in Poland, lead by Associate Prof. Heidi Sherman (Humanities) and Asst. Director for Study Abroad Jemma Lund, had the opportunity to meet Lech Wałęsa. Wałęsa is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and he co-founded and headed the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, Solidarity. He was also the president of Poland from 1990-95.
UW-Green Bay student Alexander Alberts (Accounting, Business Administration and German), has been selected as one of the German Academic Exchange Service Young Ambassadors for the 2019-2020 academic year. The Green Bay-area native (Ashwaubenon) is currently attending a workshop in New York to prepare, working on public speaking and methods to motivate students to study abroad in Germany.
Young Ambassadors are undergraduate students and master’s students from North America who recently studied abroad in Germany and promote study in Germany at their home universities. They help to inspire their fellow students by giving them useful tips on how to enjoy and make use of their own stay in Germany. Alberts is in his fifth and final year at UW-Green Bay and has career aspirations to work at an international company and spend some time working and living abroad in Germany. His specific interests include international sales, business systems and international accounting, and he hopes to spend time teaching English abroad in Germany.
This summer, nearly 60 UW-Green Bay students will study abroad in eight countries. Summer 2019 programs include six faculty-led courses in England, France, Italy, Ireland, Poland and Spain and three interim programs, allowing individual students to take classes in Germany, Scotland or Spain.
The program with the highest number of UW-Green Bay students abroad this summer will be the faculty-led program to England. Fourteen students will leave in July for Oxford University to experience “a whirlwind adventure of the literary culture [in] England’s oldest intellectual center and the world’s second oldest surviving university.”
Students wishing to learn more about future study abroad opportunities should contact Jemma Lund, email@example.com. Applications for January 2020 are open through early fall. Follow The Office of International Education on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates, and visit www.uwgb.edu/study-abroad/ for complete information.
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