Weekly Bulletin
October 4, 1999
Vol. 89, No. 4

[Page one]

Geowulf: Is this the future?
Exhibit celebrates Hemingway's art
Water crisis countdown
Snakes to fungus: tips for daily life
International experience
Nassau Notes


The President's Page

International experience

By Harold T. Shapiro

This fall a dozen concentrators in the Department of English will take their junior seminar in critical writing not in Princeton's McCosh Hall but in University College London's Foster Court.



A Romance Languages and Literatures concentrator will inaugurate an exchange program between Princeton and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris. More than a hundred undergraduates will return to campus from a semester or year in such places as Berlin, Melbourne and Buenos Aires. Others will return from summer language programs or internships in China, Spain, Germany and France. These students are part of a growing number of Princeton undergraduates who are studying and working abroad.

For those returning from non-English-speaking environments, increased proficiency in a foreign language is an obvious benefit, but there are many others as well. The opportunity for unique academic experience, to gain an empathetic understanding of another culture, to meet and interact with students at foreign institutions, to study under the guidance of foreign scholars, and to take advantage of unique opportunities to explore firsthand the scientific, political, historical and artistic phenomena of other nations enriches immeasurably students' intellectual and personal growth and prepares them to function in an increasingly interdependent world. Furthermore, expanding Princeton's international reach is essential if we are to continue to achieve our aspirations for academic leadership in an increasingly global society.



The Faculty Committee on International Experience in Undergraduate Education has set a two-fold goal: to increase the number of students who participate in international programs and to integrate international academic experience firmly into a Princeton education. Associate Dean of the College Nancy Kanach has been working with faculty to implement the first of these objectives, and already the results are very promising. We have developed summer language programs in China, Japan and Germany, and we are pursuing similar opportunities for other languages. We plan to develop more summer internships overseas to add to current opportunities available through Princeton-in-France, the German Summer Work Program and Princeton-in-Asia.



A semester or a year

Princeton's most important steps forward are the opportunities now provided for students to spend a semester or year engaged in serious academic study abroad. Since 1993 the number of undergraduates studying abroad for a semester or a year has almost doubled. In addition to identifying and working cooperatively with existing study abroad programs that guarantee our students high quality and unique academic experiences, we are expanding our own direct links with universities and programs abroad so that we can offer opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to Princeton students. We now have nine such links with universities as diverse as Worcester College, Oxford and Kyushu University, Japan, and we are exploring options in the Czech Republic and Hong Kong.



The success of semester or yearlong opportunities for juniors and seniors depends importantly on our ability to integrate them with departmental requirements and assure that they meet Princeton's rigorous standards for independent work. Recently, the Woodrow Wilson School has begun to offer junior-year policy task forces abroad. One task force last semester in Jerusalem studied International Terrorism. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology students interested in marine or tropical projects may work with Princeton faculty and members of Smithsonian research stations in Panama or Kenya.

We are building partnerships with University faculty members at foreign universities to serve as academic advisers for the junior independent work of Princeton students studying at their institutions. A faculty member at the Catholic University of Chile, Professor Tomas Chuaqui *97, who received his doctorate in politics from Princeton, has been advising the junior papers of politics majors studying in Santiago; and students in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Cape Town, South Africa, have had the opportunity to write their junior papers under the guidance of local scholars appointed by the Departments of History and Politics.



Extensive investigation

Dean Kanach and others associated with the study abroad program conduct extensive investigations of possible programs, assessing their promise to meet our high academic standards and to offer valuable cultural and social experiences. A generous gift from one of our trustees, Donald Fisher, and his wife, Doris, P'76,'79,'83, has facilitated site visits to potential programs and provided seed money for new ventures, which has accelerated the expansion of our study abroad program. Other friends and alumni also have lent assistance by suggesting programs and Princeton connections in other countries.


Students who have studied abroad are enthusiastic about the experience. As one student put it, "I took challenging courses and benefited from hearing so many different points of view. My JP research was an adventure I'll never forget. I was able to investigate a topic I wouldn't have thought of had I not gone abroad. Socially, I made friends that have affected my life completely. Culturally, I have learned to love and admire a wonderful country." Beyond the personal benefits, the campus community is made richer by these returning students who bring back to Princeton their unique academic experiences as well as the perspectives of another culture.

[President's Pages are a regular feature of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Selected President's Pages appear in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin once a month.]