The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU begins expansion of study abroad programs

Columbus was wrong. The world is flat.

At least Michael Clarke, executive director of SMU’s International Center, feels that way. According to Clarke, the world is getting smaller, and just having a college degree in the United States won’t be enough for long.

To compete in the competitive business environment of today, students will need to have some international experience. SMU is working to expand the ways students can acquire such experience.

“Being a citizen of the world is more important now than it has ever been,” Clarke said.

Traveling the world and experiencing different cultures while graduating in four years is already a possibility for students. SMU offers 24 programs in 13 different countries. Around 450 to 500 students go abroad each year through the International Center. Those numbers are on the rise and will continue to grow if the International Education Task Force has its way.

SMU’s International Education Task Force is a group of individuals with representatives, including students, from all the different SMU schools who are investigating how to make SMU an “ethos of internationalism.” Clarke, a member of the task force, thinks that opportunities abroad need to be expanded and diversified. The task force will submit its formal suggestions in mid-March.

Jose Bowen, dean of Meadows, recently took a trip to Timbuktu to look into developing a study abroad program in east Africa. Bowen emphasized the need for students to learn by experience and expand their horizons as a student as well as an individual.

“I can get you a passport and send you out of your comfort zone,” Bowen said. “The rest is up to you.”

Non-traditional study abroad opportunities are developing not only in Timbuktu. The newest program is SMU-in-India, a monthlong advertising study abroad experience in Ahmedabad, India, this summer. SMU is hoping to extend programs to Latin America, South America and China.

“We are serious about developing a strategic, comprehensive plan to internationalize this university,” Clarke said.

This summer the SMU-in-London program will take CCPA students to Greece for a week, where they will stay in a monastery and work on nonprofit communication projects. Program director and CCPA professor Nina Flournoy is also laying the groundwork for a new program for study abroad in Turkey.

“I will spend spring break in Istanbul visiting a university in the hope of developing a new program in Turkey for 2008,” Flournoy said.

Flournoy, who is also a member of the International Education Task Force, said the development of new study abroad opportunities is “indicative of SMU’s push to grow diverse international experiences.”

Many students have already taken advantage of the abroad experience offered by SMU. Sarah McKinnon, a senior who attended the year-long London academic program, believes going to London and attending the equivalent of an Ivy League school there (London School of Economics) made her “appreciate SMU and the college experience so much more.”

McKinnon believes her year abroad was more than just school; it was a cultural experience in an international setting. Reflecting on her time abroad, McKinnon said of her London lifestyle, “I relaxed, traveled, and made great friends. We would study during the day then relax or go out at night.”

McKinnon had suitemates from the Netherlands, Africa and Great Britain who helped immerse her in different cultures.

She recently landed a job with Morgan Stanley, one of the top investment banking firms in world. McKinnon attributes her employment to SMU’s reputation as an educational institution and to her experiences abroad.

“Companies are moving to different markets, many in Asia, and they are looking for individuals who have some international experience,” McKinnon said.

Sophomore Keith Marshall plans to travel to Madrid for SMU-in-Spain for the fall semester of his junior year. Marshall is a foreign language double major-Spanish and German-and looked at SMU for college because of the abroad opportunities for students.

“Studying abroad is something you can only do once in your life,” Marshall said.

He wants to live with a host family in Madrid to absorb the language and culture. Marshall also plans to participate in SMU-in-Xalapa this summer to further his knowledge of the Spanish language.

The world may be shrinking, but opportunities are growing. For more information on abroad experiences offered at SMU, please contact the International Center and Study Abroad office in Room 216 of the Laura Lee Blanton Building. You can also look them up on the Web at

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