Off Campus Studies Announces Two New Partner Programs

Eleanor Matson, Staff Reporter

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Recently, two new study abroad programs were approved by the Off Campus Studies office. The two new programs will be a yearlong program in Munich, Germany and a semester computer science program in Budapest, Hungary. The addition of these two programs is part of a review process that the Office Campus Studies Office has recently been undertaking.

Director of Off Campus Studies, Susan Holme, said that the office wanted to do this review in order to get faculty members opinion on where Off Campus Studies could be improved.

“[W]e got some excellent suggestions from faculty about areas where we could have stronger offerings,” Holme said.

The AIT Budapest program will be the first study abroad program here at Whitman that will have a serious focus on computer science. Computer science is still not a major, however, so the process for anyone planning to study there will be different than most. They will be the only students who have an exception to the rule that all students must have declared their major before going abroad.

According to Associate Professor of Computer Science, Janet Davis, the program has a dual focus.

“The way AIT was designed is that it really has two pillars of strength. One is theoretical computer science, which is heavily based in mathematics … The other real pillar of strength is IT Entrepreneurship. The program founder, Gábor Bojár, is an IT entrepreneur–his company back in the 1980s built one of the first 3D computer aided drafting programs,” Davis said.

Because the program focuses on more entrepreneurship and on a more technical education instead of the purely academic focus that Whitman courses offer, Davis thought students would be able to get a new perspective by studying abroad.

“One of the reasons you study off campus is to have different experiences than the experiences we offer here at Whitman. It’s one semester out of eight, the courses we offer here at Whitman are going to remain academically focused,” Davis said. 

The Year of Study in Munich, on the other hand, will provide a more intense language experience for German speakers. The other German programs all have a lesser German requirement than this program—it requires each student to have 4 semesters worth of German. Students will need it, however, as they will directly enroll in courses at the local university in addition to the course they will take at the center.

Assistant Professor of German Studies and Environmental Humanities, Emily Jones, recognizes the worry students have about graduating on time if they decide to study abroad. She believes that this program will allow for many students from different majors to be attend this program.

“A lot of students are hesitant to study abroad because it seems like taking a semester off from their major or if major’s courses aren’t available in a particular sequence then it can be a problem. This is particularly difficult for students in the sciences,” Jones said. “What is really great about the Munich program is that they offer courses at the … technical school in Munich which have science and engineering courses many of which are also available in English.”

In fact, Jones believes this program is such an excellent program that it will soon become the model for all other study abroad programs offered by Whitman.

“It’s really a great program. I think it has the potential to be the gold standard for off campus studies,” Jones said.

According to Holme, there will be three new programs announced this December. She hopes that by adding these new programs, they will make studying abroad easier for students of all majors.

“We want as many Whitman students as possible to study off campus and to enhance their global education while they’re at Whitman–we think it’s a really important part of students’ four-year education,” Holme said.

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