On Sept. 12, Psychology Department Chair Diana Leonard announced that the summer 2024 study abroad program in Australia has been canceled due to budgetary reasons. This came as a shock that deeply disappointed and upset both faculty and students.
“It was not a decision made lightly and we recognize that it will impact students who were considering the program as an option,” said Blythe Knott, director of the Overseas and Off- Campus programs, in a statement.
Less than a month before the application deadline, Leonard sent out an email to the Psychology majors of Lewis & Clark stating that the Overseas & Off-Campus office had informed both her and Dr. Yueping Zhang, the faculty leader of the trip, that the program was no longer being held and there was to be no replacement in the next few years.
“As the enrollment and fiscal picture emerged this year and we faced some difficult choices, our approach was to focus resources on our core academic-year programs that continue to have strong student interest,” Knott said. “While students have always expressed interest, actual enrollment has been very small for many years.”
This low enrollment has resulted in demand for other things in the psychology department.
“Academic year offerings face increased demand,” Knott said. Departments are beginning to make tough decisions in order to meet that demand. Due to the lack of enrollment in the program, the resources were deemed better spent elsewhere, and the program was scrapped for this upcoming summer.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the department met to discuss their reactions to the news.
“[This] included surprise and disappointment at the loss of next year’s abroad option,” Leonard said in a statement. “We also started talking about strategies to help majors find courses to fill the expected gap in their graduation plans.”
A meeting was scheduled with Dean Bruce Suttmeier to continue that conversation.
Despite Psychology being LC’s most popular major, the Australia program is the only psychology-specific overseas program that the school has offered in a long time, and is the school’s only summer program.
This means the next Psychology- specific program, the Irish Social Science trip, will be held in the spring of 2025, likely during the semester that some students will be graduating. This might throw off their academic plans. In addition, the next predicted date for the Australia program on the Overseas & Off-Campus website appears to be in the summer of 2026, after graduation for some students who hoped to join the program.
The Social Science program in Ireland is an incredibly popular alternative, however it is also a very selective option and many students have been turned away because of the limited number of spaces available.
Study abroad programs are an opportunity for students to travel and live in other parts of the world while also getting in their necessary academic requirements at LC. The school has always encouraged students to find and participate in these programs. Because of the change, however, opportunities for Psychology majors have been limited.
Leonard encourages affected students to reach out to their advisors or her for support.
“It’s never easy when plans change, and we want to help make that process as smooth as possible,” Leonard said.