Maryville University was not alone last spring as universities across the country were forced to cancel summer overseas study-abroad programs because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Students who were eagerly expecting to experience another culture first-hand in a few weeks were forced to postpone their dreams. As the virus continued to force changes across all segments of society throughout this past year, universities have been grappling with how to give students the experiences of other lands and cultures while remaining safe against COVID-19.
Maryville’s Office of Study Abroad has come up with an innovative answer to the problem. It just unveiled a set of seven virtual study-abroad course opportunities for Summer 2021 at four locations: Oxford, Florence, Dublin and Panama. From the safety of their own homes, students will be able to explore the sights and sounds of a particular locale, interact with live people at the site and reflect on these experiences. Ventures into these other lands and cultures will occur in both real time (synchronously) and as the student’s time schedule permits (asynchronously).
In Dublin, students will explore Irish history and culture in one course, or engage in exciting dialogues with artists, actors, writers and musicians in another course.
In Florence, students will focus on the culture, cinema and food of Italy in one course, or address the contributions of Florence to Italian history and culture in another course.
In Oxford, students will participate in a one-on-one tutorial with an Oxford University scholar or experience a series of lectures by Oxford scholars on world affairs.
Finally, the Panama virtual course will focus on an investigation of issues relating to sustainable development, political history and wellness in the country, including an opportunity to work with Panamanian students.
“We believe we have created a set of virtual study-abroad experiences that provide exciting educational interactive opportunities abroad at the cost of an on-campus course while keeping our students safe during these difficult times,” said James Harf, PhD, director of the Office of Study Abroad.
“The global pandemic has forced us to rethink how we deliver overseas experiences to our students. When the ‘new normal‘ returns, we will once again offer our traditional on-site programming. But we are now positioned to include an entirely new set of opportunities into the future for those students whose work schedule and budget do not allow them to participate in our on-site programming.”
For more information about Maryville’s virtual study-abroad options, visit maryville.edu/virtual-study-abroad.