Education courses added to Florence program

Chelsea Cassudakis

A new Florence study-abroad program is being added to the College of Education in the fall of 2011.

Kent State already has a campus in Florence, Italy, and the education department wanted to utilize the campus, said Alexa Sandmann, director of the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum.

“One of our motivations is we want our students to be competitive in the 21st century,” she said. “Our world is becoming increasingly small and the more international experience we can give them, the better.”

The coursework for the program is designed for first-semester sophomores.

The university already offers some courses in Florence, Sandmann said. Kent State asked the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum to add some courses that are designed specifically for students studying education.

Courses were specifically chosen so that students wouldn’t lose time toward graduation, she said. LER courses and early education courses are offered to students to study abroad.

Because the program is so new, there are many details that haven’t been finalized yet — including the cost.

“Dean (Daniel) Mahony, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Services, is very much committed to making this as affordable as possible for our education students, so we are working hard to figure out some scholarships,” she said.

Sandmann said studying abroad benefits students by giving them more experience in the world.

Colleen Jackson, junior integrated language arts major, said she would be more interested if she were still a freshman, but that it still seems like a good opportunity.

“I think it’s a great idea for the school to start this program,” Jackson said. “After high school I traveled overseas to Rome and Athens. You learn so much from an experience like that.”

Mahony said Kent State is one of the first universities to offer a Florence study-abroad program to education majors.

“I don’t know of many other teacher education programs that provide an opportunity like this for their students, so we are happy to be able to be among the leaders in offering this option,” he said.

The architecture, fashion and journalism programs already have a presence in Florence.

Rachel Barber, sophomore early childhood education major, said although the program could be beneficial to students, it’s just not for her.

“I wouldn’t be interested in going to Italy to study abroad because I don’t ever plan to teach there,” Barber said. “I think it might be a good experience for other people, but it’d be more beneficial to another major, like business.”

But Sandmann said this is just the program for education students.

“We want to give our students a chance to see more of the world,” Sandmann said. “As teachers, we can only share what we know, and so when we give our teachers a chance to see more of the world they can bring that world back to their classrooms.”

Contact Chelsea Cassudakis at [email protected].