"I, Too, Am Study Abroad"
2016 Heiskell Award Honorable Mention: Study Abroad
Nomination submitted by: Dr. Joshua S. McKeown, Director, Office of International Education and Programs
SUNY Oswego has dedicated itself to ensuring that education abroad is attainable by all students. In 2010-11, underrepresented groups comprised 13% of students going abroad at SUNY Oswego. By 2014-15, more than 25% of study abroad participants were from underrepresented groups, mirroring campus demographic diversity. The "I, Too, Am Study Abroad" campaign has been a key element in this success.
As part of its strategic plan, Oswego has pursued an aggressive expansion of its study abroad portfolio and targeted institutional student grants, with a special emphasis on diverse locations and new academic disciplines. It created its first education abroad offering in Africa, new grant-funded STEM research programs in Brazil, and new programs to important destinations such as China, Cuba, India, and Turkey, to interest and accommodate a broader array of the student population.
To make sure that students from diverse populations access these opportunities, Oswego reassessed and revitalized its study abroad outreach, replacing older and less relevant activities with more focused efforts. The centerpiece of the new campaign is a discussion series that engages panels of returning study abroad students representing SUNY Oswego's diversity to speak candidly about their choices and experiences, addressing issues that students face while overseas related to topics such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, and other identity factors.
Returned study abroad students are also employed as “Study Abroad Mentors” or enlisted in volunteer outreach positions often tied to their majors. The new campaign makes creative use of interactive activities such as photo contests, social media (with the #oswegoabroad hashtag), student blogs, and organized returnee involvement to reach out to different, diverse areas on campus, to convey the message to all students that there is a study abroad program for them.