Michigan State University hosted a symposium on Freshman Seminars Abroad: The MSU Model and Beyond on September 30, 2011, sponsored by the Office of Study Abroad, the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, and Faculty & Organizational Development. In addition to presentations by faculty and administrators from MSU, the event featured a keynote by Professor Larry Braskamp* from Loyola University-Chicago as well as a panel of expert speakers from the University of Minnesota, Purdue University, and the University of Cincinnati. Participants represented 28 institutions and four countries.
The day-long symposium was intended for higher education professionals interested in learning about high-impact international learning experiences in the context of students' first-year experience. Presenters and participants explored the complexities, challenges, and opportunities of the innovative Freshman Seminars Abroad programming model. The event was timed to address the growing interest nationally and internationally, among education abroad and first-year-experience professionals, in the intersection of first-year-experience interventions, students' transition to college, and the student development potential inherent in study abroad programs. While U.S. colleges and universities have long recognized that the first year of college plays a crucial role in student success, and while they have an even longer tradition of study abroad, the blending of the two areas is a relatively new phenomenon. The result is variations on a unique program type designed to tap into the synergies between the principles of on-campus freshman seminars and the learning objectives of study abroad.
*Larry A. Braskamp is a Senior Fellow at the American Association of Colleges and Universities, Senior Scientist at The Gallup Organization, and a member of the Board of Trustees at Elmhurst College. He was a faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and held administrative positions as a Dean of Applied Life Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dean of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He served as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Loyola University Chicago.
He is a coauthor of over a hundred articles and several books, including Putting Students First: How Colleges Develop Students Purposefully and the survey instrument, Global Perspective Inventory. Currently he is President of the Global Perspective Institute and working with the American Association of Colleges and Universities on a project, "Civic learning and democratic engagement," funded by the Department of Education.