U.S. NEWS AND World Report named Lewis & Clark College’s study abroad program in the top 25 of colleges nationwide.
The ranking, which was released earlier in September, is compiled through peer review. Universities across the nation were asked to nominate up to 10 study abroad programs from other institutions.
“It means that [LC] is known by fellow colleges to be one of the strongest in study abroad,” Blythe Knott, the Acting Director of the Overseas and Off-Campus office, said.
LC’s study abroad program began in 1962, with trips to Chile, Japan, Mexico and Peru. It has since grown in size and participation, now with about 60 percent of the student body studying abroad or off-campus during their time at LC.
According to Knott, one of the reasons for such a large involvement from the student body, which she calls “about as high as it gets without being required,” has to do with the support from various campus institutions.
“Every department and division feels connection and ownership to overseas programs,” Knott said. “That’s just super unusual.”
Lesedi Khabele-Stevens ’17 agrees.
“I studied through Lewis & Clark because the programs that I was on transferred to my major and minor really well,” Khabele-Stevens said of her time studying abroad in Morocco and off-campus in New York City.
Another thing that makes LC’s study abroad programs so unique is the involvement from professors. Professors must apply to lead a program two years ahead of time, and then go through an intensive training process before they can take students abroad.
“We have the buy-in from the administrative side of things … to release professors for a full semester,” Knott said. “That’s also super unusual.”
Some of the programs that LC leads have often been a part of the campus for generations. Students studying abroad in Ecuador, for instance, are continuing a tradition of schooling and homestays in Cuenca that has been going on since 1974.
Sabina Bloom ’17 felt that connection while studying abroad in Ecuador last spring.
“I think what was special about the program I went on was the relationship that Lewis & Clark had with the school that was there. That had a huge influence on my experience [in Ecuador]. The teachers already knew the professor we were going with and knew students at our school and had pictures of them on the walls,” Bloom said.
Unlike other colleges on the list, LC’s programs are only open to students currently attending LC. This helps to foster relationships with other students and professors, as well as a connection to the program. It also speaks to the prestige of LC’s overseas and off-campus programs.
“People [from other universities] check in on me all the time about how we do things, because people think of us as doing things really well,” Knott said. “We’re thought of as a guide, in a way, to how it’s done.”
Looking forward, the Overseas and Off-Campus office is getting excited about the future, especially as Classzilla begins the application process to study abroad. The office is also working on outreach to the class of 2020 by visiting every PSI section and being a presence in the dorms.