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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]

Cover Story

PLU continues successful focus on international education

According to surveys conducted by the New York-based Institute of International Education, approximately 3 percent of U.S. college students studied in other nations last year. PLU stands apart, with 36 percent of its grads having studied abroad in faculty-directed programs, university exchanges and other programs.

"We offer a unique international core curriculum of courses, and we have one of the oldest interdisciplinary, global studies programs in the USA," said Bill Teska, PLU's associate provost. "For decades, our faculty have been committed to providing for our students solid perspectives in global learning. In some ways this has come naturally; it's a part of our heritage."

Among comparable institutions, PLU is ranked seventh for the percentage of graduates who have studied abroad, according to the Institute of International Education in its most recent survey.

With study abroad opportunities from Tanzania to Trinidad and Tobago and a core curriculum stressing a global perspective, PLU is committed to providing students with an international education.

"In the whole realm of international education, what has happened at PLU is remarkable," said Teska. "We are among an elite group of leading comprehensive universities that graduate a substantial percentage of students with international experience."

Shorter study abroad programs have also grown dramatically. Six years ago, there were a couple of international programs offered during J-Term, the January session in between semesters. This year there were 18 programs, sending students to study community development in Cuba, the economy in Italy and the ecology of Australia. And PLU boasts 52 Fulbright Scholars in the last 25 years who went overseas after graduation, far more than comparable institutions.

The university also offers an unusual International Core of classes, which provides an interdisciplinary approach structured around a theme of global studies. Also available are majors in Scandinavian Studies and Chinese Studies.

"It is critical to be preparing our students to be global citizens," Teska said. "We are giving our students the tools they need to navigate through an increasingly inter-connected world."'

International students also make up 5 percent of PLU's student population, compared with a 3 percent average at American universities.

Pacific Lutheran University Scene
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