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Pack your bags for a study abroad adventure at ASU

ASU students can choose to study abroad in 65 different countries
Earn ASU class credits in Finland, Fiji, Italy and beyond.
February 28, 2017

From visiting one of the most beautiful Nordic cities, to exploring interpersonal relationships on beaches in Fiji, to understanding the integration of science and humanities in Italy, Arizona State University students are making the world their classroom.

“The beauty of the study abroad experience is that it opens your eyes to different ways of thinking that can spark new insights into how your own culture and community might operate,” said Paul LePore, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Students can choose from more than 250 programs in 65 different countries offered by the Study Abroad Office to complement studies in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. This year, the college’s faculty will direct several study abroad programs during spring and summer to help students culturally diversify themselves and gain valuable global skills — all while earning class credits from around the world.

“I’ve always wanted to lead a study abroad program,” said LePore, the faculty director of the Comparative Education in Finland program. “If I had an opportunity to travel and bring students along, I wanted to give it a shot! We put a program together on Finland to see how they might be doing education better than we are.” 

Comparative Education in Finland

The Comparative Education in Finland program is a two-week trip to Helsinki with visits to Estonia and Rovaniemi. Students will have a chance to explore K–12 schooling outside of the U.S. and experience firsthand the educational system of Finland, a known leader in education.

LePore, a sociologist who specializes in social psychology and the sociology of education, has been identifying factors that promote academic achievement and student success for years. This program furthers his own studies and helps students analyze trends that impact our nation’s educational system.

“It should be a lot of fun,” said LePore, who led the program last year. “You can read a lot about how other cultures think about education, but when you’re in a country and you can actually sit and watch classrooms, you can really delve deeply into the daily student experience and have deeper insight.”

The program is multidimensional, said LePore. Students see a different culture in terms of education, but they also experience the country’s economic and social history. These different perspectives allow for those studying abroad to experience a real richness and discover the context of a foreign land.

Multicultural Psychology Summer Experience in Fiji

Students will also travel to Fiji for the Multicultural Psychology Summer Experience program, designed to highlight social dimensions of human behavior. They will address real-world issues that combine social and political factors, including sustainability and gender relations, to understand what affects daily life in another culture.

“I have a strong desire to share global immersion experiences with my students,” said Delia Saenz, associate professor in the Department of Psychology. “The lessons students learn from studying abroad change their current lives and inform their futures.”

Apart from learning about interpersonal perception and interpersonal relationships, students also have the opportunity to go snorkeling, scuba-diving, zip-lining and more in the cities of Suva and Nadi, Fiji.

“I become giddy in the process of designing the courses to be taught and the relevance of the material to the excursions we will take,” said Saenz, the faculty director of the program.

This will be her third time leading a study abroad program in Fiji. Over the years, she has become friends and collaborators with many Fijians and shares her international relationships with her students.

“Many of my Fijian friends often ask by name about students they have gotten to know and remember them with great fondness,” said Saenz. “I believe this reflects the fact that our students make genuine connections across the places we visit.” 

Saenz encourages every student to gain global experience because they have a lasting impact.

“Study abroad changed my life,” said Charlotte Harrington, a psychology and English major who participated in the program. “Living abroad for a month showed me I want to go beyond just traveling and live abroad someday. Travel has become my greatest passion, and I plan to pursue it endlessly!”

Exploring Science & Medicine Through Art & Literature in Italy

Most study abroad experiences are specific to an academic unit or discipline, but the Exploring Science & Medicine Through Art & Literature in Italy program creates a transdisciplinary experience with faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Health Solutions.

Faculty directors Mark Lussier in the Department of English and Alison Essary in the School for the Science of Health Care Delivery will transcend traditional boundaries to facilitate historical perspectives on science, medicine and art in Florence, Italy.

“Lussier and I are most excited about hosting this new and innovative program,” said Essary. “Students will have the opportunity to learn from faculty and with students outside of their discipline, and in a location that provides a rich learning environment.”

The program is tailored to fit the individual needs of every student. For example, students interested in health and health care can refine their observational skills through the critical examination of art.

“Critical reflections of these experiences can assist students in their approach to challenging or difficult scenarios, which may help cultivate characteristics consistent with humanistic, empathetic health care professionals,” Essary said.

Outside the classroom, students will get a glimpse of the most famous museums in the world, including Museo Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci Museum, La Specola Museum, Accademia Gallery and the Museo Di Palazzo Poggi Anatomy and Obstetrics Collection in Bologna.

“Students will gain an appreciation for the intersection between arts, science, medicine and literature,” said Essary. “They will hone their ability to compare forms of knowledge and cultivate the abilities operated beyond the standard zone of comfort.”

Regardless of where students decide to study abroad, they will experience the wonder of being an outsider and their lives remain forever changed upon returning home.

“After realizing my passion for travel and living abroad, I decided I needed a marketable skill to make those dreams come true,” said Harrington, a study abroad participant. “I added another major and am considering joining the Peace Corps. These thoughts and desires were always a part of me, but studying abroad helped bring them to the surface and shape my future plans and career.”

ASU students can participate in a multitude of program options ranging from one week to one year and everything in between. All study abroad programs provide students with ASU credit, and students can use their financial aid and scholarships to fund their experience. Learn more about program options and opportunities at the ASU Study Abroad website.

Top photo: Paul LePore (back right), associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, takes a photo with student participants in the 2016 Comparative Education in Finland and Sweden study abroad program.

Alexis Berdine

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Q&A: ASU geomorphologist discusses Oroville dam overflow

Storms in northern California cause nation's tallest dam to overflow.
ASU geomorphologist says disaster shows power of clear water vs. muddy flows.
February 28, 2017

School of Earth and Space Exploration professor Kelin Whipple studies how the Earth is shaped by climate, tectonics and surface processes

A series of storms recently battered northern California, causing the nation’s tallest dam to overflow and prompting the evacuation of more than 200,000 people.

The waters have begun to recede, revealing the extent of the damage: The spillway at the Oroville dam was carved in half and the adjacent hillside was stripped to the bedrock.

Watching from a distance, ASU geomorphologist Kelin Whipple was hooked. The professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration studies how the Earth is shaped by climate, tectonics and surface processes. “I work on how rivers cut through rock,” he said.

Whipple wanted to fly out to study what happens when a damaged, concrete emergency spillway and a previously undisturbed hillside meet unprecedented flooding, but the site remains closed to anyone except dam personnel and emergency construction crews.  Further, repair work has “obliterated the record of what happened,” Whipple said. “They filled everything in with concrete.”

Still, there are lots of aspects about the catastrophe that intrigue him, and he’s considering adding a lesson on the dam to next year’s syllabus. He sat down with ASU Now to discuss why happened, how it happened and how it all comes back to climate change.

man diagramming on piece of paper

ASU geomorphologist and professor Kelin Whipple diagrams the mid-February Oroville Dam crisis that caused significant damage to the Northern California dam's main and emergency spillway. He says the increased rain in the area is a result of global climate change. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Question: Most dramatic erosion — canyons on the Colorado Plateau, for example — is done by muddy, silty rivers, but this was done by clear water. What does that mean to you?

Answer: A lot of erosion by rivers is thought to be done by the tools they’re carrying, by sand-blasting, for one thing, but also big rocks smacking along the bottom; the bed load being a big factor in the efficiency of erosion.

This was a case of stuff coming in with no tools and eroding like crazy. It kind of proves some of the stuff I’ve been working on, which says you don’t need tools. The tools will help in the right cases, but it’s not the only mechanism.

Q: Can you explain what happened?

A: The spillway has an access road that loops around. As long as the water is spread out as a pretty thin sheet, it would probably come down and not do a whole lot of damage. I think the real problem … is they had this road down here, a raised road; you have little waterfalls that get set up.

The water is pouring over the road, plunging down. It’s got a whole bunch more energy to attack. Once the water attacks, it starts getting in a groove.

That’s a focal point for more water to collect there, and get higher and higher stresses, and to dig in deeper.

Q: It’s an amazing display of the power of water.

A: Water is extremely powerful. I remember talking to a farmer many years ago who said something like, ‘When that water takes hold, it’s not going to let go.’

Feast and famine — that’s basically what climate change is all about.

Q: Is there a relation between the drought and the mudslides and sinkholes we’ve been seeing?

A: I don’t know about the sinkholes, but the thing about the drought and the floods are two sides of the same coin of climate change.

On the one hand, it’s one of the wettest years in California history. It’s great, because it’s breaking the drought for the surface water. In that sense the drought is over or close to over.

(But) there’s a huge deficit in the amount of ground water. That takes many, many wet years to recover. … But the same climate change that increases the chance of dry periods and mega droughts increases the chance of the occasional great, big, wet year and giant storms because there’s more energy in the climate system.

It’s energy and solar insulation and think of it as temperature that drives the rate of evaporation and drying out the soils. But that same amount of energy is providing energy to the sea surface and warming it up, so you’re evaporating faster off the oceans too.

When you get one of these atmospheric rivers, these huge bands of moisture come in and hose California.

Feast and famine — that’s basically what climate change is all about.

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News