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UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO / Spring 2012

ToreroNews 

Spring 2012by Ryan T. Blystone

Going Global

USD best in the nation for undergraduate participation in study abroad programs

Whether studying the origin of USD campus buildings in Alcalá de Henares, Spain, immersing themselves in the vibrant culture of Florence, Italy or exploring the storied sights of London, England, Toreros are expanding their horizons and traveling the world in record numbers.

According to the most recent data from the Institute for International Education (IIE) publication, Open Doors Report, which examined institutions and study abroad undergraduate student participation for the 2009-2010 academic year, USD ranks No. 1 with 71.4 percent participation among doctorate institutions. Data indicates that 825 students of the 1,156 total undergraduate degrees conferred at USD in 2009-2010 studied abroad for at least one semester, summer or during the January Intersession.

“We’re thrilled with this outside recognition. It validates the commitment across campus to provide a globally relevant education for our students,” Associate Provost for International Affairs Denise Dimon, PhD, says.

Dimon, an economics professor at USD since 1982, is well-acquainted with the value of international education for undergraduate and graduate students, due to her longtime role as director of the Ahlers Center for International Business. All colleges and schools on campus — the College of Arts and Sciences, Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, School of Business Administration, School of Law, School of Leadership and Education Sciences and Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies — have extensive global opportunities for students. Additionally, University Ministry and the Center for Community Service-Learning have immersion programs.

The rise in participation shows that USD’s renewed emphasis on internationalization over the past five years is working. “The creation of the International Center in 2007 was the culmination of one of the strategic initiatives of the University and all our stakeholders,” says Dimon, who was named as the center’s director last fall.

So now that USD ranks first in participation, what’s next? “It definitely motivates us and keeps us thinking creatively,” says Kira Espiritu, director of USD’s undergraduate study abroad program. “More than 70 percent of our undergraduate students are studying abroad, but it makes us think harder about the nearly 30 percent we’re missing and how we can reach them.”

The Second-Year Experience Study Abroad for sophomores, a collaborative effort between Espiritu’s office and the Office of Student Affairs, is one way. More than 180 Class of 2013 students took the inaugural Intersession trip in 2011, choosing between Barcelona, Spain; Florence, Italy; and Oxford/London, England. Students took a college course, but also took in local culture such as attending a soccer game, taking part in a cultural cooking experience, and visiting museums and nearby cities on weekends. Staff members went along and led frequent student reflections.

“It’s ironic that a trip abroad has actually made me feel closer to my USD community,” says Remi Dalton, a double major in chemistry and visual arts, who went to Florence, Italy. “Being in a foreign country made me realize that, whether we are Italian or a USD student, we each have a global responsibility to be open to friendship and new experiences.”