SUNY Cobleskill Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs: Taking the Classroom to the International Level

Infusing the undergraduate experience with robust international programming, SUNY Cobleskill is pleased to include faculty-led study abroad opportunities for all students. Several SUNY Cobleskill full-time and adjunct faculty members have seized the opportunity to accompany students on international adventures during the winter 2013 – 2014 and summer 2014 sessions.

Faculty-led study abroad programs present students with the opportunity to travel to a foreign location not only alongside their peers, but with the guidance and support of one or more SUNY Cobleskill faculty members. Academics are interwoven with once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences, permitting faculty who are involved to create an educational experience for their students that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. A few examples of recent trips include travels to India, South Africa, France, and Spain. SUNY Cobleskill’s Mark Kiburz, Fisheries and Wildlife Technician, JoAnne Cloughly, Associate Professor of Agriculture and Food Management and Lynda McMaster-Schuyler, Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, feel passionately about the extraordinary affects international opportunities have on not only their students, but also themselves.

The nineteen Culinary Arts students who accompanied Chef Cloughly to France and Spain had the opportunity to study food and wine in some of the richest culinary landscapes the world has to offer. Students immersed themselves for ten days in learning skills and acquiring knowledge from internationally celebrated chefs, witnessing the behind-the-scenes operations of exclusive restaurants, tasting five-star cuisine and delighting in experiences that many would never partake in themselves. “Students on this trip had the chance to taste bread from the oldest bread maker in France, visit the oldest food market in Barcelona and learn how to make mustard from scratch,” describes Chef Cloughly. “I was shocked at how students kept going non-stop, every day. It was amazing to witness how excited they were to be involved with every experience this trip had to offer.”

Dr. McMaster-Schuyler, whose Ethics in Science, Medicine and Technology students traveled with her for eleven days in India, were given the chance to submerge themselves in the course in a way that far exceeds the traditional classroom setting. “I can’t read anything to my students or show them a video that is going to make an impact on them the way it does when you’re standing right in the middle of the Mumbai slums,” said Dr. McMaster-Schuyler. She continues to stress how joining her students in study abroad experiences such as this enrich her teaching and positively affect her professional and personal life. “For a teacher, it’s heartening because you can see the transformation. I’ve had students from this trip contact me and tell me how their interactions with international students have changed. They have a whole new perspective after they have gone to India.”

Fisheries and Wildlife students who spent 14 days in South Africa with Mark Kiburz gained a full understanding of the ecology and wildlife management issues in that country. Whether they were being instructed on wildlife preservation, interacting with lion clubs, combing through Kruger National Park or dart training from a helicopter, Kiburz recognized students were involved in an opportunity which would set them apart from the professional competition. “When students were presented an opportunity to do aerial dart training from a helicopter, I knew that they had to do it. It’s an experience they can place on their resume that less than one percent of biologists in the nation will have,” Remarked Kiburz.

“It is two weeks out of your life that I would absolutely recommend it to other faculty members and students. These opportunities allow you not only to invest in students, but also in your own career,” adds Kiburz. With such passionate support, these faculty-led programs will continue to take the classroom to a new international level, for students and faculty alike.