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“Left out of the global loop” ‘States of denial’ and African American undergraduate students’ participation in U.S. college study abroad programs. Jennifer.

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Presentation on theme: "“Left out of the global loop” ‘States of denial’ and African American undergraduate students’ participation in U.S. college study abroad programs. Jennifer."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Left out of the global loop” ‘States of denial’ and African American undergraduate students’ participation in U.S. college study abroad programs. Jennifer Simon and Dr. Denise Donnelly, Georgia State University, Atlanta GA, USA

2 Topics of Discussion Study Abroad in the U.S.: Historical Overview Minorities and the state of Study Abroad today The African American situation Why Study Abroad matters What accounts for African American exclusion? Theoretical overview Program proposal (GSU case study) Overcoming barriers to exclusion

3 Study Abroad in the U.S.: Historical Overview “Studying abroad is the act of a student pursuing educational opportunities in a foreign country” Began in 1600s in New England colonies Catered to wealthy, white upper class students ‘Junior year’ model began -1920s Federal government funding of study abroad- 1950s Public universities began to embrace study abroad in the 1980s -1990s Led to a rapid increase in enrollment Minority involvement increased for the first time

4 Minorities and the state of Study Abroad today Minority involvement still low nationally (out of 191,321 students who studied abroad in the 2003/4 period, only 16.3% of minority students participated) [Open Doors 2005 report ] - At Georgia State University (GSU), a large public research, educational institution, located in Atlanta Georgia, out of 410 students who study abroad, less than a third (137) are minorities, even though minorities comprise 45.9% of the population of the 27,267 students in 2004 Nationally, African American participation is among the lowest compared to all racial groups in the U.S. (they only comprise 3.4% of students who studied abroad in 2003/4)

5 Why Study Abroad matters How do Students benefit? Multitude of benefits have been documented Career (Opper, Teichler and Carlson, 1990 ) Interpersonal (Hembroff and Rusz, 1993) Educational (Carlson, Burn, Useem, Yachimowicz,1990) Minorities will lack the skills to play vital role in political and economic future of the nation.

6 How do host communities benefit? Little research conducted on impact of international students on host communities Lessens stereotypes Widens the perspective of locals Locals gain international awareness (especially if international students participate in community service programs) (Ward, 2001)

7 How do universities benefit? Contributes to vital research and innovative collaborative activities Increases international networks and partnerships Promotes Intercultural interaction among student population Widens intellectual perspective (Ward, 2001) Enhances the reputation and international profile Financial benefits

8 What accounts for African American exclusion in study abroad? Personal barriers - Low Socioeconomic status (SES) - Lack of finances - First to go to college - Lack of interest Criticism of personal barriers - Posey (2003), majority of study abroad participants in his study were white, occupied the lowest SES category, and used their financial aid to study abroad - Carroll (1996), black students expressed high levels of interest to study abroad but were the most likely group to say that they perceived barriers, such as lack of information and support from the institution

9 What accounts for African American exclusion? (Cont’d) Institutional barriers - Exclusion from formal and informal networks of information - Narrowness of study abroad program organization - Lack of Administrative and faculty support - Inadequate marketing and recruiting

10 Theoretical Overview Existence of a “State of Denial” - African American students offered similar opportunities as whites - Based on the equal educational opportunity policy of public schools What fuels this denial?  White privilege – “the unearned benefits that flow to whites in the American racial order-as well as the “lack of awareness” of this privilege by whites” (McIntosh 1989; Wildman 1996; Rothenberg, 2000) - How this privilege works - Certain criteria considered to be “normal” to study abroad administration and faculty unintentionally disadvantage African Americans and other races Free time Sufficient financial support Exposure to networks of information Membership in certain organizations

11 Theoretical Overview (cont’d)  Color blindness – “assumes that society is organized along race neutral structures", and “silences discussions of persistent racial inequality and asserts that race no longer matters” (Bonilla-Silva 2001, 1997; Bonilla-Silva and Forman 2000) Examples of this in study abroad: - Administrators assume not pursuing study abroad is believed to be a function of students limitations and not inadequacies in the institution - Black Students see a lack of minority personnel and support and limited access to information - Black Students see culturally insensitive advisors and faculty who do not accommodate issues such as racial concerns - Faculty see Eurocentric focus of the curricula as “normal” - Black students see their culture and heritage as being not as important as European Americans Ideology goes against the goal of the public school system to enable every student to have an equal opportunity to achieve their full educational potential

12 Program proposal (Georgia State University Case Study) Goal of Office of International Affairs: Increase study abroad participants from 410 to 700 in coming years. Our goal: Increase African American participation, promote internationalization as a consist part of curricula Plan: Provide sociology study abroad program linked to a Freshman learning community (FLC) with rotating destinations in non-traditional geographical locations. - Northern Ireland, Ireland and a Caribbean location The Northern Ireland component would be linked to a course called ‘Race, Religion and Conflict’; provides an understanding of pertinent global issues The trip would be for two weeks in the May semester Rationale for locations: Northern Ireland: Faculty expertise, history of Northern Ireland Catholics similar to U.S. blacks situation, civil rights movement, social inequality

13 Program proposal (Georgia State University Case Study) Cont’d Caribbean: Cheaper, closer to the U.S., melting pot of races, can link a multitude of topics with various specialties and disciplines such as race and ethnic relations, social inequality (such as looking at how tourism industry impacts locals and tourists), history, sociology among others Rationale for FLC: Interdisciplinary approaches being utilized, smaller classes, curricula integration Rationale for length of trip: Costs less and caters to a variety of non-traditional students (Vondrova, 2003)

14 Recruitment strategies for African American students Spend the time to identify and find workable financial aid options and get the information out Use returned African American students as peer counselors Use professional role models as examples Have an easily accessible network of returned students Network with long term or African American permanent residents abroad and minority student organizations in the host countries’ campus Have African American recruitment staff and diversity officers at their disposal

15 Recruitment strategies for African American students (cont’d) Market to both parents and students when they are just entering university Bring up issues of privilege and race during orientation sessions Have more targeted recruitment for African Americans Have more collaborations between faculty and study abroad office in recruitment effort Be more aware of and sensitive to culture specific inquires and concerns

16 Overcoming barriers to exclusion Acknowledge that there is problem Facilitate awareness of the applicability of study abroad Manage cost of programs Have culturally sensitive and supportive faculty and advisors Strengthen international initiatives in departments Make information about study abroad more available in a wider range of forums Incorporate dialogue that acknowledge race, power, and privilege in host countries as part of formal curricula Widen the range of choices in program length, country Design a more culturally inclusive curricula that is connected to studying abroad


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