MA in International Education
More American students study abroad in the United Kingdom than anywhere else in the world. This is an interesting phenomenon in part because, while study abroad is traditionally seen as a chance to expand horizons, the United Kingdom is far more linguistically and culturally similar to the United States than other study abroad destinations. Because the United Kingdom is Western, English-speaking, and shares its history with many Americans, students do not necessarily anticipate the often-subtle cultural differences between the two countries.
This capstone focuses on study abroad programs in London. It seeks to highlight best practices in cultural programming initiatives that are designed by study abroad programs to challenge students’ assumptions about cultural difference (or a perceived lack thereof) in this popular destination. It outlines different forms of cultural programming available for students across several study abroad programs, and examines that programming from the perspective of Sanford’s theories of challenge and response and readiness. The research was conducted by issuing a survey to London-based study abroad programs, and by conducting reviews of program websites to supplement the survey responses.
The study proposes that, in addition to the actual cultural activities and experiences themselves (challenge), it is important that students receive preparation beforehand to handle new situations (readiness) and support after the activity or incident (response). While some activities can be planned by the program to encourage culture learning, other incidents that lead to culture learning are more spontaneous. Thus, teaching culture learning tools and providing support should be the key areas of focus for study abroad programs, in and out of the classroom. Depending on their typology (center-based, direct enroll, or hybrid), programs will be better equipped to meet this need in a variety of ways.
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | International and Comparative Education
Walter, Margaret K., "Searching for the “Abroad” in Study Abroad: Best Practices in Cultural Programming Initiatives in London-Based Study Abroad Programs" (2010). Capstone Collection. 1407.