Kent State expands its global network

Julie Sickel

Kent State University’s reach extends far beyond a main campus and eight regional branches.

News of a new partnership with Siauliai University brings Kent State’s total number of international connections to approximately 200.

That number includes university partnerships, exchange programs, short-term study abroad arrangements and full semester study abroad programs.

With Kent State’s growth around the world, we discussed the international expansions with Ted McKown, associate director of international affairs.

Describe how Kent State’s connections work worldwide. Is every relationship meant for recruiting and study abroad opportunities?

We have been really expanding our efforts to have partnerships around the world over the past two years. Currently we have about 200 university partnerships. It’s really kind of a wide representation: Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa…even North America.

Every region of the world is a little bit different as far as what our goal is and what we want to try to accomplish. In one area we might be collaborating specifically for a specialized research area. We might be in another region of the world to recruit students. Or we want to establish exchange agreements so that a Kent State student who is from northeastern Ohio and has never left the country has the amazing opportunity to go to an amazing place in the world.

It just depends on the region of the world and what we feel like we can accomplish there.

What exactly is a “short-term study abroad?”

Say we have a student who is going to school full-time at Kent State. They have a part-time job, or even a full-time job. For them to leave their current environment at Kent State becomes very complicated because they’re thinking, “Now I might lose my job. I have to come up with financing of a study abroad experience. And I could put myself a semester behind.”

So the short-term study abroad experience can really be a great opportunity for students to not give up their job, not lose time in their academic programs and be cost-effective in how they have that study abroad experience.

Short-term study abroad can range from 10 days to 6 weeks.

Why not go to Florence, Italy or Shanghai, China and actually do a study abroad experience, earn credit and have an amazing spring break? You can actually do that through a short-term study abroad experience here at Kent State now.

Note: Short-term study abroad can also be done during winter break, summer and May intersession.

Are these experiences limited to specific majors?

Short-term study abroad experiences can be very knowledge specific and focus on journalism, architecture, art history, Pan-African studies. There are so many opportunities out there. I would really want a student who was curious about short-term study abroad experiences to come and ask what’s available in their major.

The short-term study abroad programming is evolving and growing so most likely we have something that can fit most everyone’s major.

You also might be going to an area for a course like geography, so it’s more of a general education course, and over 10 days you’ll get to learn about the geography of China.

Note: The average class size is 7-20 people for a short-term class trip.

What colleges are involved with the semester study abroad in Florence and Geneva?

Every college is either in Florence or Geneva.

Geneva is a great place if you’re interested in areas that would revolve around European politics, international relations, international business, public health – there’s a lot of different areas in Geneva and that’s expanding as well.

Florence: We have programs in education, architecture, business, interior design, fashion design, art history—there’s just so many things you can do. And that’s just the short list off the top of my head.

How can students benefit from studying abroad in some way?

More students are reaching out; they’re seeing how critical study abroad is in their development as a student and as a professional. They realize, “Hey, I need those experiences so I can be competitive as I go out and start showing my resume during the interview process.”

These are very special programs. Study abroad is something that can really propel you and prepare you for what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. It’s one of those things in your university experience that you have to take advantage of because over and over we hear from students who didn’t study abroad and they say, “That’s one of my biggest regrets. I didn’t do that while I was in college.”

Contact Summer Kent Stater editor Julie Sickel at [email protected].