The more study abroad becomes part of the institutional fabric of a college or university, the more likely students are to pursue it and the deeper their learning will be. What has become known as “curriculum integration” is a key element of this process.
In the context of study abroad, curriculum integration refers to the movement to connect study abroad experiences more directly to courses and degree requirements at students’ home institutions. The University of Minnesota is one of the leaders in this movement and defines its efforts this way:
“The Minnesota Model of study abroad curriculum integration is based on partnering with academic units to effectively meet institutional goals to internationalize the curriculum. This model spreads ownership for international education throughout the institution.” University of Minnesota, Learning Abroad Center »
Curriculum integration often involves asking particular departments or faculties to explore how study abroad might be incorporated into what they want students to learn and the requirements that students must fulfill for a degree. When successful, curriculum integration leads to more central placement of study abroad in the degree program, greater recognition of the value of bi-national approaches to research and knowledge, and less hesitancy by students concerning credit recognition issues.
While the kind of strategic partnerships presented in the RoadMap are not always part of curriculum integration efforts, they provide much value when they are. Such linkages:
- enable partner departments to learn about each other’s curricula and degree programs, leading to greater acceptance and use of each other’s courses as part of a student’s accepted plan of study;
- facilitate short-term study-travel programs that embed time at the partner institution into courses taught at the home institution;
- connect faculty to each other for collaborative teaching, both face-to-face and virtually;
- enable faculty who do not know much about the partner nation to advance their knowledge (and hence their ability to contextualize student study abroad experiences there) through dialogue with partner faculty.
In the long run, curriculum integration through strategic partnership can transform the teaching and curriculum of each institution and better prepare students for the experiences they will have at the partner.
As U.S. and Japanese faculty deepen their abilities to incorporate material on the other country in their courses, especially in disciplines where this is new, they may be helped by the teaching resources listed here.