The College of Global Studies:
A Leading Force in International Study
By David Larsen,
Vice President of Arcadia University and Director of The College of Global Studies
Reprinted from From Female Seminary to Comprehensive University: A 150-Year History of Beaver College and Arcadia University by Samuel M. Cameron, Mark P. Curchak and Michael L. Berger. Published in 2003.
During the summer of 1948, Jack Wallace, a newly hired economics instructor, undertook a groundbreaking and significant venture. Professor Wallace and his wife took a class of 17 Beaver College students to Europe to study the economic effects of World War II and the post-war rebuilding efforts by looking at what was then happening in a number of cities in England and on the continent. The group sailed across the Atlantic from New York to Southampton, traveled around England on used bicycles purchased for this purpose, took the boat across the Channel, and continued riding their bikes through Belgium and France – all the way to Paris. They spent a total of eight weeks living and learning abroad before sailing back to New York at the end of the summer.Classes were taught on shipboard en route and in locales like Oxford, London, and Paris during the program.
This was a pioneering and bold effort. In June of 1948, few other American colleges or universities had resurrected the study abroad programs that the World War had interrupted. Just two schools had been able to generate interest overseas study, secure the necessary permissions, and make overseas arrangements capable of supporting the resumption of such undertakings. Only Beaver College was able to launch a new one. Professor Wallace developed his idea into an actual program during an era when international communications relied upon the postal services, when neither the telegraph nor the telephone was used for anything short of a true emergency. It was a time before easy and efficient transatlantic air travel, even before the advent of “student ships” that would encourage and support subsequent summer and semester–long study abroad programs throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.
The Beaver College students in Jack Wallace’s class not only worked hard, they played hard – and they enjoyed themselves immensely. Contemporary campus folklore perpetuates descriptions of Beaver College women slogging through the rain on their heavy bikes, of late-night sessions, of dances and parties with their English student counterparts (and even some local service men). Living conditions were just as “quaint” and primitive as the $2/day budgeted to pay for them would suggest. Remarkably, everyone coped cheerfully and the venture succeeded beyond the College’s expectations.
This undertaking was a such a hit that it was repeated in expanded format during the summers of 1949 and 1950. The itinerary broadened in favor of a passage on the rebuilt European railway system. Under Professor and Mrs. Wallace’s leadership, student participation grew each year. This summer program became so popular that when, after three years, Jack Wallace left Beaver College to teach at Boston University, other faculty members eagerly came forward to take up the reins and to lead the project forward.
John Hathaway was one of these. A professor of the arts, he arranged to add gallery visits in Spain and Italy to a busy itinerary of stops at sights in Belgium, Holland, France and Switzerland. The original academic focus, economic reconstruction, was replaced by a deliberate effort to see, discuss, and understand European art. The number of participants increased. The thrill and excitement of education abroad continued. For nearly a decade following the first summer program in 1948, Beaver College undergraduates looked forward to the summer in Europe, now an attractive feature of the institution’s curricular and co-curricular program and a special experience in which their enrollment at the Jenkintown/Glenside-based institution entitled them. In Arcadia’s sesquicentennial year, alumnae and former faculty fondly and enthusiastically still recall their first-hand educations on location in Europe – and all the surrounding activities and adventures – as being among the highlights of their lives.
Although the reasons for ending this annual summer practice in the late 1950s are obscure, Beaver College did suspend operations of this early post-war education abroad program at that time. But not for very long.
When David Gray joined the Beaver College faculty in 1964, he brought more than an advanced degree in political science to Glenside. He had contacts and connections in London, an entrepreneurial vision, and the ability to convince others to let him give his creative ideas a try. Dr. Gray saw broad acceptance in American higher education of the “junior year abroad” experiences for language majors. Spending one’s junior year immersed in on-site language study in France, Spain, Germany, or Italy was generally regarded as an effective learning experience by American colleges and universities during the decades between the World Wars of the 20th century. In the 1950s, it was rediscovered and reinvigorated. Participation was greater than ever by the early 1960s. At the same time, summer study and travel abroad experiences like the one Beaver College had pioneered were being developed for students in other academic fields. Dr. Gray was determined to develop a third option – education abroad during the regular academic year for non-foreign language majors. He secured the College’s approval, and on September 9, 1965, 24 Beaver College women accompanied by Dr. and Mrs. Gray, disembarked at Southampton from the student ship “Aurelia.” A new era of international education had begun.
After a few days sightseeing in the Salisbury/Stonehenge area, the Beaver College group arrived in London on September 19. They were accommodated at the German Youth Hostel in Paddington. After London orientation and some special seminars on such subjects as the British systems of government and education, they attended regular fall term classes at City of London College.
Harry Beecheno, a City of London College department head, facilitated the Beaver College group’s integration into academic life there. In addition, the group participated in visits to places of interest in and around London. They shared lodgings, showers, and kitchens at the youth hostel, which led, sometimes, to the brink of creative disaster and to no end of amusement. It was an extraordinarily rich semester of both classroom-based and experiential learning.
The academic program ended with mid-December exams. Then the students went off for a weeklong Christmas-time “homestay” with British families, followed by two weeks of visits to several European capital cities before returning to the United States around the middle of January. Full credit for work done in England was readily accepted by Beaver College for each participant, and an institution was born – the Beaver College The College of Global Studies.
David Gray’s experimental program directly addressed an unmet educational need among American undergraduates. Students welcomed a way to enroll overseas in an English-speaking country – indeed, in England itself – for academic credit that would transfer back and be counted toward degree requirements at their home schools. Creation of the College The College of Global Studies at Beaver provided a mechanism for doing exactly that. All students enrolled in the London Semester Program received a Beaver College transcript – documentation from an accredited American Institution of the courses taken, their credit value, and the grades earned in recognizable American terms. Registrars and credit transfer officers on home campuses no longer had to puzzle over unfamiliar documents of foreign origin. Credit for study in London now could be understood and transferred in as readily as could credit from any other American institution.
David Gray recognized two other things during that first year: there was unfilled capacity at British universities to absorb bright American students; and there were a large number of non-language majors on U.S. campuses who wanted to enroll for a year or a semester abroad. CCEA would bring these two elements together.
The early staff of the College The College of Global Studies included Dr. Gray as director, assisted by Marjorie (Marj) Holler and by Carolyn Watson (one of the student participants in the 1965 Beaver group). Harry Beecheno worked in many capacities in London – he recruited faculty to teach, helped with orientation and arrival serviced, and handled advising and trouble-shooting. He did this part-time until his retirement from City of London College in 1975, and then full-time for several more years. During the first decade of this program, Beaver College faculty members were recruited to spend a year in London as resident directors and sometimes as instructors for the program.
At home, the College The College of Global Studies (CCEA) reached out to other institutions in the mid-Atlantic and New England regions. A consortium was formed with Beaver College, Franklin and Marshall College, and Yale University. Managed by Dr. Gray, the College Consortium for Education Abroad actively recruited American undergraduate students (almost always juniors) at first to London Semester program and then also to full-year, direct enrollment at such other British universities as the University of Bangor in Wales, the University of Lancaster, the University of Surrey and some of the colleges of the University of London.
As enrollment grew rapidly and new program sites were added during those early years, CCEA organized advisory boards. At first, these were separate bodies in the United States and in Britain, but they later were united into a single body of study abroad advisors (from the few campuses where those officers existed), deans and academic advisors, Junior Year Abroad administrators, and, occasionally, registrars from both the United States and in Britain. Participants used the bi-annual meetings of this group for the purposes of sharing information, suggesting new programs, establishing policy, discussing student recruitment, and reviewing and re-confirming the validity of Beaver’s credit and grade translation practices.
By the early 1970s, CCEA offered study abroad opportunities in Britain, Vienna and Hong Kong. Mrs. Holler was managing publicity and the administration, and coordinating responsibilities for the Glenside staff. Carolyn Watson spent part of her time each year visiting American campuses and talking with prospective students and advisors. David Gray handled relations with the consortium and overseas partners. He also directed the business aspects of the operation, establishing a solid operating base.
The dissolution of the Beaver-led consortium a few years later (when Yale decided to go its own way with a program in Hong Kong and Franklin and Marshall lost interest) did not significantly disrupt operations. Enrollment steadily increased as the Beaver College The College of Global Studies carried on these overseas programs alone. Beaver had established a year-round program in Vienna, Austria, led by Professor Chris Latour, and developed more university-based sites in the United Kingdom to provide further options for students who sought a more fully integrated experience than the London Semester provided. It began a relationship with Trinity College in Dublin, opening Ireland as an additional Junior Year Abroad destination for American Undergraduates.
Faculty member Helene Cohan was seconded from the Foreign Language Department to assist CCEA with the management of the Vienna Semester Program. Later, responsibility for programs in Ireland was added to her administrative mandate. She successfully administered programs in both these countries (and Greece in the 1990s) for several years.
By the time Tom Roberts joined the staff in 1979, Beaver’s programs were ready for rapid domestic expansion. An experienced student recruiter for study abroad, Mr. Roberts quickly succeeded in broadening the recruiting base from a focus on the eastern third of the United States to include the whole country. Thus Beaver College’s study abroad program, already one of America’s oldest, became of its largest. The following decade saw enrollments grow dramatically.
In the early 1980s, new British program sites were developed both in and out of London. The London School of Economics signed on with both full-year and special single-term options. Irish universities in Cork and Galway also joined the Beaver list. Affiliation with the Austro-American Institution for Education strengthened the Vienna Semester program. The popularity of London as a study abroad destination generated a constant need for student accommodations there. That combined with the need for a “permanent” Beaver College base in Europe to justify the College’s taking a long-term lease on Shield House in London’s South Kensington neighborhood.
In addition to generating a financial surplus which provided vital revenue for Beaver College’s annual operations, the programs provided by the College The College of Global Studies helped the College gain national and international recognition. While this was happening, however, the number of Beaver College undergraduates participating in its study abroad program gradually declined. As enrollments on the Glenside campus shrank during the 1980s, students were discouraged from going abroad, since their absence from campus meant lost residence hall revenue. In the 1986-87 academic year, there were no students from Beaver College among the 1,500 who studied overseas through CCEA.
David Gray and Tom Roberts left Beaver College in 1988. The new director of The College of Global Studies, David Larsen, faced a formidable task. Not only did he need to carry forward a highly successful operation, but he also faced a new and extraordinary competitive challenge: David Gray and Tom Roberts soon returned to international education as the leaders of a new study abroad institute based at Butler University in Indiana.
Dr. Larsen decided that the Beaver College program needed to change. During the next decade, he worked with the staff to strengthen existing programs and to add new institutions and new destinations to Beaver’s already extensive list. Assisted by Peggy Stone, Arlene Snyder, Julia Levy, Christina Good, and later by Lorna Stern on the Glenside campus, Dr. Larsen hired permanent, full-time resident directors abroad and recruited and developed a talented staff for the Glenside office and in the field. The role of the overseas offices was expanded from student services to include responsibility for program administration. As the number of study abroad sites grew, year-round offices were established in Dublin, Edinburgh, Athens, Guadalajara, Melbourne, and Queenstown, New Zealand. Additionally, programs in Spain and Italy were added. Full-time resident directors were hired and trained to help assure optimum program quality: Will Migniuolo (Great Britain), Jan Motyka Sanders (Greece), Corlin Ireland (Ireland), Ana Isabel Sousa (Mexico), Carmelle Le Vin (Australia), and Jane Gunn-Lewis (New Zealand).
A small team of regional representatives carries information and descriptive materials about the Arcadia University College of Global Studies (CEA) to campuses throughout the United States. These five assistant directors visit some 300 campuses each year to make presentations to students, faculty and advisors.
A group of 40 study-abroad professionals from around the country works closely with CEA staff as a National Advisory Board. They provide feedback and suggestions about ongoing activities and indicate program developments to meet the emerging interests and academic needs of undergraduates. Internships, summer programs, service learning opportunities and freshman year activities have been developed in response to the Board’s suggestions.
CEA provides American undergraduates access to some seventy overseas programs in Australia, England, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, Spain, and Wales. The Arcadia University College of Global Studies is a national leader – one of America’s oldest and largest education abroad programs. CEA strives consistently to provide the highest level of support and service to its program participates wherever they are in the world.
For more than one third of its 150-year history, Arcadia University has been actively involved in international education. In 2001-02, more than 2,000 American students from more than 350 home colleges and universities studied abroad as participants in one or more of Arcadia University’s programs. Servicing a range of students, new high school graduates through master’s degree candidates, in a variety of program structures (summer, a single semester, and full year), The College of Global Studies makes serious overseas learning experiences, and appropriately documented credit for them, available around the globe.
But that is not all. Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, this institution’s Trustees, Administration, and faculty have collaborated with CEA to find creative and effective ways to implement that component of the University’s mission which involves “preparing students for life in a changing globe society.” Arcadia University had steadily become an institute where students can come to learn about – and to experience – the world. The curriculum changed to reflect an international perspective; new undergraduate and graduate programs with an international emphasis were developed. Increasingly, Arcadia University students were encouraged to study abroad and were supported by the University in their efforts to do so. Short-term, faculty-designed and led Arcadia University programs took students to destinations around the world during vacation periods; most academic programs provided a study abroad option allowing undergraduates to fulfill requirements for the major overseas without delaying the date of graduation. Some academic majors require a semester or more of overseas experience; the study of languages received renewed emphasis and support, and Arcadia’s unique “London Preview” used CEA’s overseas resources and structures to allow every freshman the chance to spend spring break in London for a nominal fee. Arcadia University was being transformed into a truly international institution, with flags from CEA affiliates countries adoring campus walkways, and faculty competing for financial support for travel and research abroad. Students reported having to decided to come to Arcadia because of its international involvement and the opportunities it provides for them. About 70 percent of the freshman participated in London Preview each year. Most of the faculty and a large percent of the staff who wish to accompany them have done so. In 2001-02, more than 100 Arcadia undergraduates studied abroad for credit – a clear indication of the progress this University has made during the past fifteen years.
The curricular and programmatic initiatives developed together by CEA and Arcadia University’s faculty and administrators led, in 2001, to this institution’s recognition by the American Council on Education as one of only eight colleges and universities in the country whose efforts at institution-wide internationalization constitute “promising practices” for others to follow in the future.