- Written by Dr. Jim Borsig
Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. – Seneca
This issue of Visions focuses on an important part of the educational experience at The W, open both to Honors and all students who wish to explore and learn about places that often are familiar in name only.
Our study-abroad program provides an immersion in the language, culture, history, archaeology, customs and landscape of countries that include Scotland, Spain, Italy and Japan. We are seeking ways to expand and build on existing partnerships, extending learning opportunities that “impart new vigor to the mind.”
This goal is consistent with the theme of our university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, “Think Outside the Books: Cultivating Intellectual Curiosity.” It focuses on active learning that challenges students to create knowledge rather than being just consumers of knowledge. A QEP is required for continued accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Thinking outside the books is precisely what happens in study-abroad, as you will see in the stories that follow. The study-abroad programs have academic rigor, requiring reading, classroom time and research papers. But in allowing students to explore locations completely foreign to them, the programs also invite them to explore more about themselves. Consistently, students say they develop not only an understanding of another place, but a deeper understanding of themselves. This self-discovery is perhaps the most valuable educational benefit of immersion in a country beyond the comfortable boundaries of the familiar world.
In the photos, student comments and resulting academic projects you’ll read about in this issue, I think you’ll see that students participating in study-abroad grow as scholars and as individuals. They develop new perspectives, new skills and new confidence. From navigating Scotland’s National Library to uncover original research sources to becoming more fluent in Spanish and Japanese, these students truly are “thinking outside the books.”
Here on campus, fall semester has been a busy and productive time. Our 2015 freshman class, the same size as 2014 (which was the largest since 2008) marks the first time in a decade The W has had two large back-to-back freshman classes. This is a real credit to the hard work done by our admissions staff and everyone at The W who has helped support their efforts. We have a vibrant and diverse student body, and this is an exciting time in our university. I invite you to learn more about some impressive numbers in an infographic you’ll find inside this issue. There is much to be proud of at your university. We appreciate the continued support of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends in shaping our future.