Political Science Education and the Profession

Experiencing and Interpreting: Reacting to Experiential Learning Abroad

Carl Cilke Northeastern University
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Jennifer Ostojski Northeastern University
Abstract
Northeastern University (NU) in Boston, MA, offers its undergraduate students a unique summer class opportunity, entitled “Dialogues of Civilization” (DOC). DOCs are one- month or two-month long study abroad trips. The University’s Political Science Department offers several distinct opportunities for its students. NU’s take on experiential learning differentiates itself with a holistic approach. While this approach allows for a more complex set of learning objectives, DOCs provoke new pedagogical problems. Faculty together with students engage with one another continuously throughout the DOC time, boundaries between experiencing and interpreting get blurred. Students’ approaches to experiencing and interpreting the environment create fundamentally different expectations. These thus developed cleavages impact the learning experience. Faculty becomes crucial in engaging with these cleavages without creating an atmosphere of exclusion. Through interviews with faculty members from the Political Science department at NU we will highlight methods of managing these experiencing and interpreting cleavages within their DOCs.
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