Hastings College President Travis Feezell plans to implement a study abroad program at HC after returning from a trip to Europe in October. Feezell hopes to create a program in which every student has a study abroad experience.
“That’s an ambitious goal, I get it, but I think study abroad, in some form, is one of the most profound, powerful experiences a student can have,” Feezell said.
Feezell also believes that having the program will give students the opportunity to place themselves in unfamiliar situations. It will also give students an upper hand with job interviews with the ability to say they lived somewhere else in the world, therefore they understand the world in different ways.
To implement his ambitious goal in having every student study abroad, Feezell plans to work with three or four regions at first that cover all the academic disciplines for students to get involved in. For example, a Spanish culture and language program in Spain, a business focus at the Paris School of Business and the University of Dundee in Scotland for arts, sciences, social sciences, politics, psychology, etc.
HC also looks to work with Pyatigorsk State University in Russia, which is a long-term partner of HC’s, and plans to envision what a closer redeveloped partnership would look like and to develop a distinct Russian culture and language study abroad program for students.
“We’re trying cover as many (studies) as we can so there is something for everyone,” Feezell said.
The partnership with the Paris School of Business will first be offered to first-year students and will be a four-year program in which students can go to HC for three years, then spend 16 months abroad, earning a degree from HC and a degree from the Paris School of Business. The other regions, like the University of Dundee, will be available for all years to partake in, but questions are still to be answered as far as how many years the program will be.
Feezell is currently working with the Paris School of Business and focusing on what classes HC students need to take before traveling. He plans to have this done within the next two to three months. A colleague of his is also working to look through procedural things on campus and helping develop future partnerships with schools in Paris and Spain, as well as looking for students from foreign countries to come to HC.
“When you start to look at those kinds of opportunities, as you receive (foreign) students in, you have to make sure you’re integrating them well, orienting them well – we got to do some of those pieces but then also when we hope to send more students abroad, what’s that going to look like in terms of helping prepare those students go abroad, perhaps how do we support them financially? And then providing you know different opportunities, not just singular opportunities,” Feezell said.
Within the next year, Feezell plans to travel to the Bahamas, Spain and Asia to create even more partnerships with the college. There is also talk of partnering up with school sin North Korea and Japan. However, Feezell first wants to focus on just the three to four regions in hopes of making them successful programs.
“These (study abroad programs) are the most powerful experiences for students, and part of what we have to be able to do is take down the barriers for them to be possible for students … We’re trying to find that balance between affordability and accessibility for students. And I think we’re finding it with these possibilities,” Feezell said.
This program will be fully implemented by fall of 2019, but there will be some opportunities available for students as early as next fall.