Lack of major-specific study abroad programs limits travel opportunities

Photo of someone on a study abroad trip
Courtesy of Jocelyn Mah

Since COVID-19 limited many opportunities to study abroad, students have been eager to get back out into the world. For many countries, especially in Asia, borders are still closed or restricted. Now that things are opening back up, we have the opportunity to experience other countries and cultures while earning credit towards our own institutions. There is just one problem: there are not many for us to choose from. 

Lewis & Clark boasts over 40 programs across 24 different countries. However, most of these programs are regional area studies or language intensives, such as those in Japan, France and Italy. This does not leave many programs for students of other disciplines, such as certain STEM and art majors. 

For example, there is only one active major-specific program for LC’s most popular major, psychology, and that is during the summer of 2024. A lot of study abroad opportunities are only offered one semester every two also years, where you have very few opportunities to get into the program you desire before you graduate. 

There are a few nonspecific programs for a range of subjects such as social sciences, humanities and fine arts, but they are highly competitive and fill up quickly. The London humaities program, for example, happens every two years and usually contains only seniors and juniors because so many students apply. 

Considering the number of students who go into the humanities at LC, there are very limited options for where we have the opportunity to study. Only 11 non-language and non-regional area study programs are available to all other majors on campus, most of which overlap under the nonspecific range of categories. 

For many, especially those who come from lower income households, studying abroad during our college years is the best chance or one of the only chances we have to go see the world without breaking the bank, as well as satisfying some requirements along the way. 

Global Perspectives is a general education requirement for everyone. As a liberal arts college, one of the things we pride ourselves on is the study of other subjects apart from our major, rather than only taking classes within our subject. We value a change in perspective, and we prioritize studying and understanding other cultures, as LC is committed to diversity. 

While we have on-campus courses that fulfill the Global Perspectives requirement, it is a life-changing experience and opportunity to interact with professors, students and people from all over the world. 

I am aware that it is difficult for a college as small as ours to connect with other institutions and get faculty to lead these programs. I feel, however, that it is important for students from all disciplines, and not just those that focus on the social sciences, to get the experience of living abroad, while getting in the requirements for their majors and exploring their own interests, if they so wish.

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