A record number of Illinois State University students gleaned lessons from across the globe last year. The Office of International Studies and Programs (OISP) reported the highest number of students studied abroad over the 2018-2019 academic year.

From Argentina to Vietnam, Croatia to Uruguay, 695 Illinois State students traveled and studied abroad. A bulk of those students are studying with faculty members in an increasing number of faculty-led programs. “In the 2011-12 academic year, we had about 10 faculty-led programs. Last year, we offered 42 programs,” said Director of the Office of International Studies and Programs Luis Canales.

students in lobby of building with art behind them

Students visited Molinos, a food company which owns 50 percent of the pasta market share in Argentina.

Professor of Agribusiness and Food Industry Management Aslihan Spaulding led students on a study of farm to table food systems in Argentina, along with Assistant Professor Amy Bardwell in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. The students traveled to farms and spoke with manufacturers in Buenos Aires and Rosario, learning the process of getting food to market. “For some of my students, this was their first out-of-country experience,” said Spaulding, who added traveling with a faculty member can make the experience easier.

During the study abroad, Spaulding’s students met with agricultural organizations, including the agricultural counselor at the U.S. Embassy. “These visits validated what the students have been learning in classes,” said Spaulding. “They made connections between economics, marketing, consumer behavior, risk management, policy, ag production, and even chemistry.”

Director of the Office of International Studies and Programs Luis Canales

OISP has been concentrating more resources to faculty-led programs, including a number of grants that promote the development of study abroad programs led by faculty. Working with Illinois State’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, the study abroad team has also recruited faculty and offered workshops on planning and implementing study abroad programs. “Students and parents are more comfortable knowing that a faculty member is leading the programs, as opposed to the students going on their own or with third-party providers,” said Canales.

In the past, noted Canales, most students took part in traditional, semester-long study abroad programs through organizations such as the Institute for International Education (IIE). During the 2018-2019 school year, however, a majority of Illinois State students opted for a shorter program led by University faculty members. A total of 534 students participated in short-term faculty-led programs and short-term direct-enroll programs with a duration of eight weeks or less. “This represents 76 percent of study abroad participation in 2018-2019,” said Canales. “In this regard, Illinois State exceeds the national average of students participating in short-term programs.” The national average is 65 percent.

Learn more about study abroad at Illinois State at the OISP website.