Study abroad is booming at Concordia University.
The university saw its largest send out during the 2017–18 academic year, with 315 students—representing online, centers, and the Mequon and Ann Arbor campuses—participating in dozens of distinct global learning opportunities in more than 30 different countries.
The interest in education abroad has been consistently climbing over the past five years or so at Concordia, and the trend promises to continue this academic year. During the 2018 summer and fall terms, Concordia sent out 164 learners, a surge of approximately 40 students compared to last year’s summer/fall count.
The increase is largely thanks to the growing number of global education courses being offered at Concordia. Global Ed courses are faculty-led study abroad opportunities that can be completed for course credit and typically last one to three weeks. In addition to the short term Global Ed courses, Concordia students annually participate in a variety of other international learning opportunities, including internships, clinical rotations, mission trips, and long-term study abroad experiences.
In 2017, Concordia faculty led 12 Global Ed courses. In 2018 that number jumped to 17, and in 2019, it’s expected to spike to 25. In the 2017–18 academic year, more than two-thirds of students who traveled abroad did so through Global Ed courses.
In total, Concordia’s study abroad reach extended to about 30 countries this year. While a few new destinations were added in 2018, the majority of educational excursions offered were long-standing traditions for the university.“We live in an increasingly connected world where students need to learn how to interact with people from other cultures and mindsets,” says Maggie Leimkuehler, who in July replaced Chris Reeder as coordinator of study abroad programs at Concordia. “Knowing how to understand and appreciate another person’s culture while gaining a deeper understanding of one’s own is vital to that process. These study abroad programs help set students on a course to competently, compassionately, and enthusiastically engage in and serve the needs of the world.”
One such opportunity, a Global Ed experience led by Assistant Professor of Business Erik Hollander, has been drawing students to Austria for the past eight years. This year’s trip had the most attendees in the trip’s history—21—with a near-perfect split of undergraduate and graduate students represented. Also included in the mix was a student from the Ann Arbor campus and two online students who had never stepped foot on Concordia’s campus.
The blend of learners enriched the experience, says Hollander.
“Not only were our students getting immersed in a ton of different perspectives from around the world, they were bonding with fellow Concordians who represented a variety of backgrounds and perspectives,” Hollander says. “That mix of perspectives sparks new ways of thinking, and it’s something that I can’t easily recreate in a regular course format. A lot of the students who go on these trips create friendships and professional contacts that they keep well beyond the initial experience.”