IV. Learning Beyond the Amherst Classroom

4.3 Study Abroad and Language Immersion

The CAP believes that students would benefit from a wider range of study-abroad options and from more opportunities to build on the knowledge and experiences that they acquire abroad. Following the recommendation of the Global Comprehension Working Group, the Faculty Committee on Study Abroad has been appointed on a trial basis to monitor the approval of programs. We urge this committee to explore ways to strengthen academic advising about the choice and use of programs abroad, to improve the linkage of study-abroad to work done back at Amherst in subsequent semesters, and to provide study-abroad options for students in all disciplines, including the natural sciences. In addition, we urge this committee to explore ways to assure that the study abroad constitutes a substantial intellectual challenge by virtue of language and/or cultural immersion. The report of the Working Group also made a persuasive case for the need to provide for language immersion experiences that offer students a realistic opportunity to attain fluency in a foreign language by the time they graduate.

16. We recommend that the College provide need-based support to encourage students to enroll in intensive summer language programs in the USA and abroad.

In addition, we urge that the College re-emphasize foreign language study as a consideration for admission to the College and enhance the role of the Study Abroad Office in encouraging and coordinating foreign study, especially in languages other than English. Some faculty have also expressed interest in mounting a study-abroad program of their own design or in teaching in reciprocal arrangements at foreign universities. Such requests demand more scrutiny and discussion; we request the study abroad committee to keep all such options open as they try to establish the best practices for faculty and students at Amherst who wish to engage with the global community.