Category Archives: Reflections

Interview with Sustainable Communities VP Michael Despines, a cross cultural professional

Despines Interview

I’m excited to share an interview with Michael Despines, VP of International Programs at the Institute for Sustainable Communities. He has a wealth of experience living and working in a variety of different African countries and makes some thoughtful comments about collaborating and communicating across cultures and on environmental and development issues


Sustainability and study abroad: making connections

The new year has been very exciting as I have been working to unite two of the major interests and passions in my life: international and global education (study abroad, cross-cultural learning, language learning) and environmental concerns (environmental education, environmental philosophy, politics, global warming, personal responsability). Both topics are understandably large and very much cross-discipline so I am narrowing my focus to how we can move study abroad in a more sustainable direction while at the same time enhancing program design so that it provides students with challenging opportunities to strengthen their cross cultural skills. In a few words, how can we make study abroad greener and a culturally richer experience at the same time?

Along the same lines I am amazed daily by the amount and quality of information that you can find online. Just last December I took an online course titled “Global Education: The Intercultural Dimension” from The North South Center. The particpants were from all over the world and we took part in readings, group and individual projects, and forums. The results wowed me. I certainly learned more about global education and enjoyed collaborating with other folks with common interests. It was my first more stuctured online course. As can be expected some of the students did not particpate much and, unfortunately, the forum could have been better (althought I think that had more to do with the time zone difficulties than anything else). This Monday, “Introduction to Sustainability” will be starting on Coursera. I’m excited to learn more about this topic (and see what connections I can make to the current challenges in study abroad) and experience a MOOC. The course lasts eight weeks so I plan to update here on the progress we make and the activities.

Have you ever participated in a MOOC?

Journaling prompts for Study Abroad PDF

Is Facebook ruining study abroad? Why not turn off the social media updates and photo postings and start reflecting on what it means to be in another culture? Along these lines I’m posting my second set of free journaling prompts for study abroad. Again my goal is to provide ideas to get students started but without being too specific so that each person can take the prompts wherever they want to go with them.

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