International education at DU:
Study abroad enhances critical thinking and cultural awareness
In November 2010, Luc Beaudoin was named associate vice provost for internationalization and director of DU’s international education program. Beaudoin, a former Department of Languages and Literatures chair, assumed his expanded role in January 2011.
Question: What is your first order of business as director of DU’s international education programs?
Answer: I’m visiting every undergraduate department on campus to discuss how study abroad integrates with curricula and with faculty and student aspirations. These conversations will broaden awareness of study abroad as a continuation of what we do on campus and as an integral part of the undergraduate experience. We’re already 60–75 percent there. I think these additional conversations will make a huge difference.
Q: How does a study abroad experience affect students’ ability to learn or assimilate new information?
A: Most study abroad professionals explain the benefits in terms of acquired or enhanced critical thinking. When DU students study at an institution outside the United States that has a different perspective on all academic subjects, even the sciences, they experience a shift in their frame of reference. They become more adept at evaluating issues from multiple points of view. That’s something you can’t duplicate in any other fashion. That said, we’re having ongoing discussions on how to properly assess the impact of studying abroad, and we’re working to identify general trends in curriculum enhancement and student benefits.
Q: What differentiates DU’s program from those offered elsewhere?
A: DU has a level of institutional commitment to international study that is really without peer. Our study abroad program is part of the undergraduate curriculum, and we make it extremely easy for students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher to study in another country during their junior or senior year. Study abroad doesn’t entail added expense for most students. They pay the same DU tuition, room and board they would pay if they were here. Study abroad isn’t required to graduate, but roughly 620 DU students take advantage of the opportunity any given year.