Notre Dame hosts conference to launch international study consortium

Author: Michael O. Garvey

Lance Askildson Lance Askildson

Notre Dame International hosted the inaugural meeting of a new consortium of private research universities Oct. 24 and 25 to explore ways to strengthen the academic quality of study abroad programs and to develop standards by which to measure their effectiveness.

The 2012 Symposium on Study Abroad Assessment brought together scholars and administrators of study abroad programs from Princeton, Georgetown, Yale, Duke, Rice and Columbia Universities, the University of Tulsa and Boston College. Also participating were more than 60 faculty members and administrators from academic departments at Notre Dame.

“The symposium provided an important opportunity for Notre Dame to collaborate with some of the world’s leading institutions for international studies in order to ensure that our study abroad programs are as intellectually ambitious and substantive as possible,” says Lance Askildson, assistant provost for internationalization at Notre Dame. “More practically, it also offered the assembled institutions an opportunity to discuss ways in which study abroad can be more explicitly implicated and aligned with students’ academic degree programs and their post-graduate trajectories on the job market.”

According to Robert Norton, associate vice president for internationalization at Notre Dame, the symposium provided an excellent opportunity for Notre Dame International, established two years ago under the leadership of J. Nicholas Entrikin, Notre Dame’s vice president and associate provost for internationalization, to introduce itself to some of the leaders of globalization among American institutions of higher learning. “We are fortunate at Notre Dame to have Lance Askildson, who organized the symposium and is himself a recognized authority in the pedagogy of second-language acquisition and study abroad assessment,” Norton says. “All of the visitors left highly impressed by the quality of the presentations and in particular by Askildson’s successful planning and coordination of the entire symposium.”

“I feel privileged to have been part of a symposium that brought together people of like mind in an environment not only rich in history but conducive to the exchange of ideas,” says Matt Serra, director of assessment at Duke University’s Trinity College. “I have no doubt that all who attended came away with a renewed sense of community and mission and empowered with ideas and approaches that will serve to move their to assessment efforts forward. I hope this becomes an annual event. It would do nothing but good.”

Kelly C. McLaughlin, director of outcomes assessment at Yale University’s Center for International and Professional Experience, praised the symposium as “an extremely well-organized event that brought together colleagues from similar institutions, all of which are searching to improve their assessment of study abroad. While assessment in other fields is already firmly established, study abroad offices on many campuses in the United States have begun to turn attention in that direction only recently. It is vital under those circumstances that study abroad leaders come together periodically to learn from each other. It was clear that having come together on the beautiful campus of Notre Dame for this conference has added momentum to our assessment efforts and to our sense of shared purpose as educators.”

Study abroad programs have grown significantly in undergraduate education over the past 30 years. Nationwide, the number of undergraduate students participating in some form of academic study abroad increased from 48,483 in 1986 to 270,604 in 2010. In 2001, 39.2 percent of Notre Dame’s undergraduate students studied abroad, placing Notre Dame first nationally among institutions granting doctoral degrees. In 2010, that percentage had increased to 56.8 percent.

Contact: Lance R. Askildson, 574-631-5881,