Throughout the application process for domestic and study abroad programs, students are reminded of the importance of discussing their goals and interests with their academic advisers. We encourage them to share with you how their semseter away fits into their Amherst education and to seek advice on whether or not courses taken at another university or program can count toward the major. This important conversation does not require faculty to have extensive knowledge about the programs we use, but rather an understanding of the departmental policy on transfer credit from the program or university and courses appropriate for the major. However, should your advisee inquire about programs more broadly, please consider the following:
- Do the course descriptions seem suitable for Amherst's liberal arts curriculum? Do they seem appropriate for the student? Many programs have course descriptions online or they can be provided by request.
- Who are the teaching faculty? (Most programs offer credentials of the faculty online.)
- Does the student have particular academic or personal needs while away (e.g. specific course requirements, disability accommodation)? (Please refer students to the Global Education Office with specific questions.)
- Has the student met with the Global Education Office to discuss their program choices? We have developed an advising checklist that we use with students to help them identify their academic and personal goals for their time away. (If you would like to see a copy of this form, we would be happy to share it with you.)
- Has the student reviewed the college's academic policies and deadlines related to study away?
The Global Education Office will evaluate the overall quality of the program in consultation with the faculty Committee on Global Education, peer institutions and The Forum on Education Abroad, a prominent professional association for study abroad that has established standards and best practices for the field. (Their best practices align well with domestic study programs, too.) Please remember that you may always defer to us for program-specific advising.
There are three stages throughout the study away experience (from application to departure) where we ask students to consult with their academic adviser:
- The Intent to Study Away is an online form that students considering study away must submit in the semester prior to the semester off campus. We ask students to inform us with whom in the major department they have discussed their program and course nterests.
- The Educational Leave Form and Waiver of Liability is the form that notifies all relevant offices that a student is on educational leave (i.e. domestic study or study abroad). Students are required to provide a preliminary course list and they must obtain their academic adviser's signature.
- Once away, students submit the online course approval form during their program's registration period to have their courses officially approved by the Amherst Registrar. At that time students are reminded to consult with the academic adviser(s) for any courses that might be considered for the major(s).
Programs approved for credit must have a strong academic curriculum and be run by experienced administrative staff in the host country. They must also offer substantial opportunities for immersion, as defined by the learning goals drafted by the faculty Committee on Global Education. We have, therefore, selected programs for the approved list that reflect our expectations:
- The curriculum is appropriate for the liberal arts.
- The majority of the semester or year is spent in one country.
- The program offers substantial opportunities for immersion. For example, the majority of faculty are drawn from local institutions and organizations. Living arrangements are with host families, dorms with local students and/or other international students. Living with other Americans is strongly discouraged, but possible if there is a compelling reason. Extra-curricular activities at the host university or in the community must be available for program participants.
- If the program is in a country where there is at least one non-English language spoken, students are expected to take one language course (at a minimum), should it not be required. (In most instances, it is.)
- Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the policies for academic credit and information about transcripts from study away.
- Please note: no credit is awarded for orientation courses/programs.
Students may always petition to attend a program that is not currently approved. The faculty Committee on Global Education reads petitions once per semester.
Programs may be added to (or removed from) the approved list in the following ways:
- Academic departments may make recommendations to the Commitee on Global Education.
- Successful student petitions (two or three) would prompt the Committee on Global Education to consider the program for addition to the approved list.
Formed in 2008, the faculty Committee on Global Education (formerly, Committee on International Education) offers guidance for global education initiatives at the college. Activities of the Committee have included:
- Reviewing student petitions for non-approved programs
- Adding or removing programs from the approved list
- Consulting with departments regarding programs appropriate for majors
- Considering requests to join consortiums and exchange proposals
- Creating new and revising existing study away policies and guidelines
- Awarding summer study abroad fellowships
- Drafting learning goals for study away
The Committee welcomes the opportunity to meet with faculty and their departmental colleagues with questions, suggestions, concerns, etc. Please contact the Director of the Global Education Office to schedule a meeting or send feedback.
When a student petitions a non-approved program, the faculty Committee on Global Education would like to hear from an Amherst faculty member about the courses offered and their appropriateness for the student and for Amherst. Students are asked on their petition form to share with us the name of a faculty member who will share this information. We then share the petition with the faculty member and a link to an online form addressing these points. Please note this is not a typical letter of reference, but rather an evaluation of the course content and assessment methodology as written in the program materials. Faculty are not responsible for evaluating the program beyond what is stated in these materials as the Director will determine the accuracy of the program's written information and reputation through a well-established peer and professional association network. Above all, faculty are asked to verify that the academic content of the program being petitioned is the 'right' program for this particular student.
If you are approached by a student to write such a letter and have questions about the program or petition process, please contact Janna Behrens.
Some program providers have teaching and research opportunities for faculty at their centers overseas. For example:
- IES Abroad has teaching and research grants available at many of their sites around the world. Some of these opportunities are in exchange for lectures or courses taught to their program students in the semester or summer.
- Advanced Studies in England has summer teaching opportunities at their program in Bath in exchange for housing, a small stipend, and airfare. Please contact ASE for more information (J.Hope@asebath.org).
- The Siena Art Institute has a visiting artist and resident program each summer. Visit their website for details.
- CIEE hires guest lecturers for summer, full semester, and 6-week blocks on certain programs. They offer a range of programs around the world.
- Budapest Semesters in Mathematics have a Director’s Mathematician in Residence Program whereby a select few faculty members can spend a few weeks in the summer in Budapest connecting with Hungarian mathematicians, learning about the program, etc.
- DIS - Study in Scandinavia accepts applications for visiting faculty. Visiting faculty typically teach only one course and have ample time to conduct research and explore Copenhagen.
- The American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) has a fellowship to fund scholars to teach at Ashoka University in Delhi,India. As a member of AIIS, Amherst faculty may apply for this fellowship that, "in addition to support for full time research, faculty have an opportunity to teach for three-and-a half months (if offering an undergraduate class), or for six weeks (if offering a mini-course for Ashoka’s Young India Fellows post-graduate program). Ashoka University is seeking senior scholars to augment its permanent faculty in a range of fields. The teaching commitment entails traveling to the University two days a week for class meetings and office hours, with the option of residing on or near the campus. It will be augmented by a period of funded research, which may be taken before or after the University course."
Amherst College is committed to providing a range of opportunities for global learning and will make every effort to make these experiences available to all students and faculty. With this goal in mind, the college seeks to establish partnerships with select foreign institutions that share a commitment to a liberal arts education. Partner schools may be in regions of the world with cultural norms and laws that do not comport with all of Amherst’s values. Partnership with a college or university therefore does not represent an endorsement of a host country’s laws, but the college will partner only with institutions that adhere to principles of non-discrimination and academic freedom.
Initiatives that fall under the umbrella of “institutional partnerships” may be:
- Short- or long-term exchanges of faculty, lecturers, and language teaching assistants
- Student exchanges
- Consortia opportunities for faculty and students
- Meet with the Director of the Office of Global Education to Discuss the Institution of Interest
The director will communicate with the appropriate office at the potential partner university to learn about the institutions existing models for exchange, and details such as student and faculty housing, U.S. academic credit equivalencies, transcript issuance, etc.
- Submit a Proposal of Approximately One Thousand Words to the Committee on Global Education (CGE) that Addresses the Following:
- Why this institution? For example, what are your aspirations for linking our institutions? What can Amherst offer the institution, and what can it offer Amherst, e.g., research centers or institutes, or archives?
- Why this host country? For example, what sites of important cultural significance, national archives, and museums might be of interest to Amherst students and faculty?
- Who are the faculty members leading efforts to form a relationship with this potential partner?
- What faculty opportunities are of interest?
- What student opportunities are of interest?
- What is the academic calendar of the institution? What are the ideal times for faculty and student programs?
- What funding is needed to support these initiatives? Costs may include the following: faculty housing, travel assistance, lecture or teaching stipends.
- Describe the location of the institution, cost of living, amenities, and institutional and cultural practices that would be important for the Amherst community to know. (The U.S. State Department's Country Profiles and Travel Advisories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites are helpful resources.) If this document is online, links can be provided.
- When a proposal is submitted to the CGE for consideration, the committee may suggest changes. Authors may then submit a revised version of their proposal, which the CGE forwards to the dean of the faculty along with the committee’s recommendation regarding the value of this partnership.
- The authors of the proposal will meet with the dean of the faculty and the director of the Office of Global Education.
- If the college is interested in forming a partnership, the dean of the faculty (and other faculty and/or staff, as needed) may visit the host university to discuss moving the partnership forward with relevant counterparts.
Partnerships will be reviewed every three to five years in order to evaluate the level of engagement among faculty and students at both institutions, and the sustainability of the partnership.