Overseas study programs approved

A student exchange with Japan’s Kansai Gandai University and a program in ecotourism and sustainable development in Senegal were approved Dec. 16 by the Faculty Senate.

Operated by the nonprofit Living Routes, an Amherst-based organization that runs academic programs in the U.S. and several countries abroad, the semester-long study program in Senegal allows participating students to engage with indigenous people and members of local “ecovillages” on issues of sustainable development and ecotourism.

Course offerings include “Sustainable Development In Senegal, Theory And Practice,” “Community Service Learning in Developing Countries,” “Community-Based Ecotourism” and language and culture classes. Courses are complemented by hands-on field experience on community-based projects in Senegalese villages.

The cost of the program is $11,250, which includes room and board.

Based on its review of the Living Routes curriculum and conversations with its director, the senate’s International Studies Council determined that the “program had been responsibly and thoughtfully designed.” The council also determined that the program cost “is in line with the charges assessed by other non-profit organizations or educational institutions.

Council members also noted that several faculty from Anthropology and Plant and Soil Sciences have worked closely in the past with other, short-term Living Routes programs and that Living Routes has a foreign liability policy to cover itself in the event of accidents or emergencies abroad.

The Faculty Senate’s approval of the Senegal program extends from Jan. 1, 2005 through May 31, 2006.

The reciprocal exchange agreement with Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, according to the council, will provide additional study abroad opportunities for the campus’ “steadily increasing numbers” of undergraduates studying Japanese.

Founded in 1945 as a small, private language school, Kansai Gaidai University has an enrollment of 9,700 in its B.A. programs in English, Spanish and international communications.

The council cited a number of advantages to an exchange with Kansai Gaidai University, including its location in a culturally important area that is underserved by other exchange partners, and the absence of a Japanese language requirement for foreign students. The university will accept students who are just beginning to learn Japanese and many courses are taught in English.

In addition, Kansai Gaidai offers an array of business and economics courses and its homestay program offers a culturally beneficial alternative to dormitory living. Kansai Gaidai also is willing to waive the usual financial documentation requiring foreign students to demonstrate access to at least $5,000 for a semester or $10,000 for the year.

Although the campus has exchange agreements with seven universities and colleges in Japan, the agreements with Tsukuba University and Tsuda College for Women “are essentially moribund” and the International Programs Office has indicated that it may recommend discontinuing them.