Thursday, July 9, 2009

Very Early Years of Standards of Good Practice in U.S. Study Abroad Programs

As many IHEC Blog readers know, I’m very interested in the history of international educational exchange with a primary focus on mobility of students and scholars to and from the United States. I recently came across some of my research notes for my chapter “Assessment of and Standards for Study Abroad” that I co-authored for the forthcoming book A History of Study Abroad: 1965 to Present and thought I would share this very short piece on the early stages in developing standards of good practice for U.S. study abroad programs:

In the immediate years after World War II, colleges and universities in the United States that previously halted their junior year abroad programs began to revive their programs and started to establish new junior year abroad program offerings. Under the leadership of the Institute of International Education, a joint institutional collaborative effort to revive junior year abroad programming was initiated in 1945 and the first meeting of the “General Junior Year Committee” met on October 10, 1945. (Hoffa, 2007, p. 159) The committee, renamed the “Council on the Junior Year Abroad”, then held annual meetings for several years to “review the various programs and establish policies on recognition, criteria and academic standards.” (Bowman, 1987, p. 15) During the early 1950’s the Social Science Research Council, funded by the U.S. Government, carried out the first series of studies in the field. These studies were primarily evaluative research studies and they intended to illustrate the best way to conduct exchange programs. (Bowman, 1968, p. 177)

Bowman, J.E. (1968). Research in Educational Exchange Problems-Step One: Defining Our Problem., CIEE Occasional Paper on International Educational Exchange No. 14, New York: Council on International Educational Exchange.

Bowman, J.E. (1987). Educating American Undergraduates Abroad: The Development of Study Abroad Programs by American Colleges and Universities. New York: Council on International Educational Exchange.

Hoffa, W.W. (2007). A History of US Study Abroad: Beginnings to 1965. A Special Publication of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad and The Forum on Education Abroad.

I find it fascinating that colleges and universities in the United States acted so quickly to reestablish and develop new junior year abroad programs so quickly after the end of World War II. I was equally impressed that the field of international education collaborated to establish the “General Junior Year Committee” and later the “Council on the Junior Year Abroad” that focused, in part, on standards of good practice.

If anyone knows where documents (reports, meeting minutes, photos, notes or other documents of interest) from these committees are housed I would love to hear from you!

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