Successfully implemented, the program effectively ties the undergraduate study abroad experience to the Brown curriculum, creating opportunities for student/faculty interaction that will reflect collaborative learning at it best. For the students, it provides an international dimension to the Brown experience that need not end with the return from abroad but has the potential to serve as the catalyst for continued research in their chosen topics. This research may take the form of UTRA awards, continued collaboration with the faculty sponsors as part of the faculty members’ federally funded research projects, or as the chosen themes for the students’ senior capstone projects or honors theses.
For faculty, the Global Independent Study Initiative provides the opportunity to work with motivated students who have taken the initiative to approach them expressing clear interest in their chosen fields of teaching or research. While on-site, students not only acquire key knowledge and competencies in their fields of study but also hone their cross-cultural communication skills to successfully navigate the host culture. The students may, in turn, serve as conduits for ongoing faculty collaboration with international colleagues and the development of collaborative relationships with new international colleagues in their fields. These will, in turn, facilitate opportunities for joint research, joint publication of articles, and the exchange of faculty.
Importantly, Brown faculty also have a pool of students who, upon returning from their study abroad experiences, can be tapped to serve as research assistants who can bring a valuable international “on the ground” perspective to the research projects. From all these experiences, a repository of international research projects and expertise may serve as a resource for internationalization at other levels. Together, these outcomes significantly move forward the campus community’s comprehensive internationalization efforts.
The Global Independent Study Initiative contribute significantly to bringing the study abroad experience full circle, imbuing the minds of students with an international perspective in their chosen concentrations, preparing them for meaningful interactions with faculty during their remaining time at Brown, and -- looking beyond Brown -- providing them with the global competencies necessary to successfully access and negotiate decisions in the global marketplace of ideas.