New grant expands TU’s study abroad opportunities

By Cody Boteler on August 14, 2020

TU one of 24 U.S. higher ed institutions to receive award

Aerial image of Rio de Janeiro
Tigers Abroad will take students on a faculty-lead trip to Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, pictured here.

Towson University has received a $35,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad to increase the diversity of students who participate in study abroad experiences.

TU used the money from the program to fund a new international initiative called Tigers Abroad. The money comes from a grant within the Department of State’s Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad called IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students).

The program will take incoming first-year and students transferring to TU from traditionally underrepresented and low-income backgrounds to Rio de Janeiro and Florianópolis in Brazil for a 12-day, faculty-led experiential study abroad program.

“As an extension of the New Student Orientation, this new Tigers Abroad program will further expand the university's capacity to offer more inclusive and impactful global learning opportunities as part of our long-standing commitment to increase access to international education for all members of our community,” says Liz Shearer, director of the Study Abroad Office.

During the program, students will study urban development through a comparative framework between the U.S. and Brazil. Students who participate will earn academic credit even before their first term begins. Additionally, the course will count toward one of TU’s Core Curriculum requirements and can be considered for Honors College credit.

The program is a collaborative effort by the Department of Political Science, the Center for Student Diversity, University Admissions and the Office of New Student and Family Programs, Shearer says.

“Through that collaboration, students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to study abroad will get a head start in earning academic credits prior to their first semester at TU while gaining a global perspective and developing a peer support network, which will aid them on their path to success,” she says.

The program is scheduled to begin August 2021, and individuals who will be new students in fall 2021 are eligible to apply. The application deadline is March 15, 2021.

Nearly 60% of TU students who go abroad do so under a faculty-led program, according to the Study Abroad Office. While circumstances have changed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the number of students studying abroad has steadily increased since the 2000–01 academic year.

TU has a robust collection of programs in more than 60 countries worldwide, and financial aid and scholarships can be applied toward many of the experiences.

“With the support of the IDEAS Grant funds, we look forward to launching this exciting, new project and to getting our students and faculty back out into the world as soon as it is safe to do so,” says Shearer.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Diverse and Inclusive Campus.