Northeastern has received a grant through the U.S. Department of State to leverage its global leadership in experiential education by helping three universities in Latin America and the Caribbean bolster their study abroad and student exchange programs.
The grant, sponsored by the Santander Universities division of Santander Bank, is part of the Obama administration’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which aims to strengthen bi-national relations and better prepare young people for the 21st-century global workforce. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000 by the year 2020 and send an equal number of Latin American and Caribbean students to learn and train in the U.S.
“We are delighted that Northeastern University received a grant through our support of President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative,” said Eduardo Garrido, director of Santander Universities US. “The 100,000 Strong program prepares students to be leaders in our global workforce by broadening their knowledge of other countries and cultures. As a local bank with a global presence and a commitment to higher education, we understand the value study abroad programs have in enriching students and our economy.”
Northeastern will partner with three institutions—the University of the Andes in Chile, the Fondacao Getulio Vargas in Brazil, and the University of the West Indies in Trinidad—to help them build the foundation necessary to sustain and grow their experiential education programs long term. This includes creating online manuals and webinars to help these institutions strengthen their study abroad and exchange programs, as well as designing workshops that address students’ needs on topics such as housing, health, and safety.
“Universities play a critical role in preparing global citizens,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern. “Northeastern’s leadership in experiential learning at the nexus of higher education and the global economy gives us a unique opportunity to help other institutions do the same.”
Supported by the grant, Northeastern will also create an online peer-advising network of “virtual embassies,” in which students interested in study abroad at the three partner universities could gain insight from students who’ve already participated in international learning experiences. Those virtual embassies, modeled after Northeastern’s successful student ambassador program, would be linked to the State Department’s existing student advising centers in those countries.
“I believe the State Department recognizes Northeastern as a leader in global education, as evidenced by the wide range of international experiences our students can engage in,” said Susan Ambrose, senior vice provost for undergraduate education and experiential learning. “Through this grant, we are working to leverage our global co-op program to develop and strengthen international institutional partnerships around the world, to enable more of our students to study abroad in ways that enhance their learning skills.”
Under President Aoun’s leadership, Northeastern has made a strategic decision to expand its signature co-op program globally. Since 2006, the university has increased global co-op opportunities by 345 percent. Students have participated in experiential learning opportunities, including co-op at Northeastern’s 3,000 employer partners, as well as study abroad and research in 114 countries and on all seven continents.
Northeastern is one of nine higher education institutions in the United States and Latin America to receive $25,000 grants from Santander Universities for study abroad and exchange programs as part of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative.