By | Hannah Rehak ’15

It’s no secret that Macalester has a longstanding commitment to internationalism, with 60 percent of the student body studying abroad. But what many people don’t realize is that every year a group of Macalester professors also go abroad — to teach.

This is no small gesture on the part of full-time faculty members, since teaching abroad takes time away from their families and work in Minnesota. However, the professors who volunteer to go abroad in support of Macalester and Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) programs are happy to do so, being passionate about experiential learning for their students and themselves.

Every spring Mac’s German Department runs a program based in Berlin and Vienna. The Macalester German Study Abroad Program runs from January to June, during which time students take intensive language courses at Berlin’s Goethe Institute before direct enrolling at the University of Vienna.

Brigetta Abel is one of the college’s German professors who has led this program. Experiencing her students’ learning in a more intimate way is a highlight of the program for her, says Abel. She teaches a course called Theater Alive in which she and her dozen or so students read plays, attend performances, and discuss the rich arts culture of Vienna. German Department faculty members rotate the role in order to give each professor the opportunity to work in Europe. Abel eagerly awaits her next turn.

Anthropology professor Dianna Shandy is equally proud of another Macalester-led program, Globalization, the Environment, and Society in Cape Town (South Africa), run in conjunction with Pomona and Swarthmore Colleges. The program, initiated a decade ago, has developed into a hidden gem, says Shandy. Each school is given four student slots, which keeps the program small and selective.

As a result, Shandy says, the students in the program are consistently intellectually stimulating individuals with an appreciation for adventure and independent research. All the students live together and direct enroll at the University of Cape Town. They are then paired with research mentors for their independent study projects. For both Shandy and her students, this unique program has allowed them to explore a historically rich city and reframe their understanding of the global south.

Another anthropology professor, Arjun Guneratne, teaches in the ACM program in Pune, India. This program is the only American-run study away program that teaches Marathi, one of India’s major languages, and at the end of the semester students tackle an independent study project overseen by Guneratne. For Guneratne, teaching in India is a unique opportunity to engage with Indian scholars interested in the same research areas as him.

Abel, Shandy, and Guneratne represent just three of the many professors who run, teach, and visit study abroad programs each year. Like the students who travel abroad, professors say they come back inspired, invigorated, and more in touch with the work they’re pursuing at Macalester.

February 18 2015

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