Central College News

Central Faculty Explore New International Programs

Featured: Central Faculty Explore New International Programs

July 27, 2023

Central College faculty completed international travel in May and June funded by a grant from the Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students Program. This grant is funded by the U.S. Department of State and supported in its implementation by World Learning. Central provided a third of the funding for the exploration of these faculty-led off-campus experiences.

Four interdisciplinary teams of Central faculty explored different countries with the goal of developing a sustainable structure for faculty-led study abroad offerings that appeal to a diverse student body. Teams went to Chile, Greece, Iceland and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Chile team included Kathy Korcheck, professor of Spanish, Paulina Mena, professor of biology, and Óscar Reynaga, senior lecturer of Spanish, who traveled to Santiago, Valparaíso, and Viña del Mar, Chile. The highlight of their trip was meeting with faculty and administrators at two universities, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello. At PUCV, the Central team presented to faculty and administrators about inclusive teaching practices, faculty development related to diversity and inclusion and Student Support Services at Central. At UNAB, they met with the kinesiology faculty and toured the simulation hospital on campus.

The team’s proposed course will introduce students to contemporary Chile through an examination of the country’s recent evolution from dictatorship to democracy and its efforts to create a more just, sustainable, inclusive and equitable society for all.

Stavros Papakonstantinidis, associate professor of communication studies, Nicole Palenske Ladner, associate professor of biology, Anna Christensen, assistant professor of philosophy, and Elena Vishnevskaya, associate professor of religion, explored Greece’s history and culture.

The team’s interdisciplinary focus will offer students a deeper understanding of the profound connections between history, archeology, philosophy, religion, gastronomy and current affairs. An introduction to the rich heritage of Greece will help students learn more about the world and themselves, thus enriching their individual journeys toward the life of an engaged citizen.

The Iceland team with Anya Butt, professor of biology, and Mary Donato, lecturer of communication studies, explored the breathtaking volcanoes, waterfalls and glaciers, as well as the bustling capital, Reykjavik. Butt and Donato look forward to exploring the Land of Fire and Ice with Central students. In addition to learning about Iceland’s natural wonders, students will have a chance to learn about the Icelandic Sagas, including author/poet/politician Snorri Sturluson, and how these stories shaped the past and present of Iceland.

The Trinidad team included Keith Jones, Mark and Kay De Cook Endowed Chair in Character and Leadership Development and professor of psychology, Randy Renstrom, associate professor of psychology, and Shawn Wick, associate professor of sociology. Their trip was organized and facilitated by Amizade, a global service-learning provider that connected the faculty with non-governmental organizations and community partners throughout the island. One community partner seeks to educate the community about climate change and address pertinent environmental issues like reforestation, forest fire prevention and climate research. This program explores how culture and history influence identity, with a special emphasis on using service learning to explore those themes.

Central plans to roll out additional faculty-led off-campus experiences in the 2023-24 academic year.