Study Abroad IAP Opportunities Continue to Grow
MIT’s Global Education Office, in collaboration with campus faculty, academic departments, and office partners, continues to expand program offerings for students interested in studying abroad during IAP. These 3-4 week January sessions have increasingly become an attractive study abroad option for students who desire an international academic experience but prefer to not spend too much time away from campus or internship opportunities.
Now in its eleventh year, IAP in Madrid has grown to include three options: Global Literature taught in English by Professor Margery Resnick, Spanish III taught this year by lecturer Mariana San Martin, and Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition taught by senior lecturer Margarita Ribas Groeger.
All three courses provide MIT credit. Students gain cultural immersion and experiential learning through homestay accommodations and the opportunity to have Madrid as their global classroom. The Global Education Office staff guide students who need financial assistance for these programs through the scholarships application process.
IAP in Madrid has expanded over the years thanks to funding from the Victor and William Fung Foundation and the Institute. The Fung Foundation funding also enabled a new seed fund, the MIT Global Classroom Fund, which started last year. This seed fund is helping to create new international academic opportunities for MIT undergraduate students by allowing faculty to innovate teaching and learning engagement throughout the world. A collaboration between the Global Education Office and MISTI, the Global Classroom Fund offers awards for up to $15,000 per year for faculty and lead instructors to develop new courses and modules or take existing courses/course modules to international locations.
For faculty, the IAP study abroad programs provide a vehicle to experiment with new pedagogical approaches. “Of the curricular innovations I have designed and brought to fruition, IAP courses in Madrid have been among the most rewarding – both to me as a professor whose field is Hispanic culture and to the now more than 500 undergraduates who have participated in this adventure,” says Margery Resnick, associate professor in the Department of Literature.
“Giving MIT undergraduates the opportunity to immerse themselves in Spanish life while acquiring linguistic, cultural, literary, and historical knowledge, is exhilarating. The joy of teaching this class to a group of MIT students who savor every moment in Spain is immeasurable.”
“The IAP-Madrid program has been a valuable addition to the Spanish curriculum in Global Studies and Languages,” notes Emma Teng, Head of Global Languages and Literature and Professor of Asian Civilizations. “Due to student demand, we expanded the program to include a second Spanish-language class, Spanish Conversation, which has proved to be enormously popular. Students and instructors alike report that the experience in Spain, especially the extracurricular activities and local tours, are extremely enriching. Students have an opportunity to practice their language skills in situ and to gain invaluable cultural immersion experiences. Additionally, they return with renewed enthusiasm for Spanish and are able to enroll in higher-level courses, participate in internships abroad, and even complete a Spanish minor.”
Professor Henderson also found the experience of teaching abroad to be inspiring. “The group spirit and camaraderie among this diverse group – ranging from first-year to seniors, with different backgrounds and artistic interests – was extraordinary and precious,” she reflects. “Learning about how much a city changes, how much is lost, was also really valuable for MIT students, who often don't pay much attention to the historical dimensions of knowledge, and who gets to write the histories as well. Thinking about their own role in telling the stories and remembering the past made the work of humanities scholarship more visible and vital. Being able to choose their own authors to ‘map,’ with a good deal of freedom in how they interpreted the assignment, worked well with MIT's spirit of hands-on and project-based learning, and allowed each student to share a different area of expertise with the group – so we all learned much more than any one person could have managed alone.”
The Global Education Office is pleased with the positive response from students and faculty and looks forward to future collaborations. “Feedback from students and faculty tells us that these programs create very powerful student learning through experience and significantly increase students’ global fluency. That is hugely motivating for us in the Global Education Office,” states Malgorzata Hedderick, Associate Dean of Global Education. “We have had great partners in faculty, academic departments, MISTI, and others for the development of these programs and we hope to be able to continue this positive growth momentum.”