Since the first UST faculty-led study abroad to Merida, Mexico, in the early 1970s, thousands of Celts have traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents as part of their undergraduate and graduate experiences. Today, UST’s global education includes outgoing individual and group studies in various disciplines, internships and mission trips. Currently, leaders of the Study Abroad Program are working to build a campus-wide effort to engage not only students but faculty, staff and the community, so study abroad can create even more international dialogue.
The Charge to Create
Central to the mission of the Study Abroad Program is the charge to create international encounters and dialogue. This is vital to our University’s mission and the formation of the whole person in an ever-integrating world.
“One way to develop more such dialogue is to increase the number of Celts studying on faculty-led, group studies abroad,” Dr. Hans Stockton, division dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences & Global Studies, said. “UST will attract more students by leveraging the success of its long-running programs in Israel, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, Poland and Taiwan. In addition, it will continue to establish new programs and destinations, which engage the STEM areas, such as biology in Costa Rica. Moreover, the University will seek additional funding for scholarships and travel grants to support student participation, including first-generation students and those from student populations nationally underrepresented in study abroad.”
Expand the Number of International Sister Schools
Over the next year, UST will keep expanding the number and location of international sister schools to provide students with more opportunities and choices. St. Thomas will also increase the diversity of disciplines offered for studies abroad, participation and leadership in international consortia such as the International Council of Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas; the International Federation of Catholic Universities; and other global and regional partnerships.
At the same time, UST aims to increase the number of international students that come to UST through its sister universities abroad. Options for incoming international students have expanded to include degrees and visiting and short-term certificate opportunities. We are working to develop new double and dual degree programs, and summer certificate programs even as we streamline the application, admission and logistics for these students.
Open Up Virtual Dialogue
Virtual technology creates opportunities for classes, guest lectures and conferences with faculty from our international sister schools. Only through such encounters and dialogue will we then engage in the acts of discernment and accompaniment across political and cultural boundaries.
The Next 50 Years of International Education
Still, the Study Abroad Program is planning for a complete return to the global stage in the 2022 academic year with a full slate of winter, spring break and summer group programs, active recruitment for semester exchanges and active summer programs for visiting international students.
“As UST envisions the next 50 years of international education, we draw on the inspiration of the Basilian Fathers’ motto: ‘Teach me goodness, discipline and knowledge.’ We will do so in the spirit of community at a global level,” Stockton said.