U.S. Department of State Study Abroad Branch Completes Successful First Year

A year after the U.S. Department of State launched its Study Abroad branch, branch chief Leanne Dunsmore reported a successful beginning as the branch strives to increase participation in and the diversification of study abroad.

In an interview with PIE News, Dunsmore highlighted the branch’s work with regards to evaluating and enhancing existing programs, capacity building and the inclusion of new stakeholders in order to broaden participation among students and across institutional types:

“The study abroad office is designed to diversify participation in study abroad, in order to provide more students with opportunities to have the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the 21st century economy and to be able to help solve global challenges. We see this investment in the study abroad office as really an investment in our collective future. So what we are proudest of is supporting those objectives, not only in terms of enhancing and evaluating our existing programmes but also in helping institutions grow capacity for this work and bringing in new stakeholders into that work, including posts and commissions and institutions that are helping us with capacity building.”

One of the branch’s core missions is the diversification of study abroad, which does not only apply to the racial or ethnic background of the students, but also to study abroad destinations, as well as the disciplines represented, Dunsmore told PIE News.

Asked about the study abroad branch’s goals are for next year, Dunsmore highlighted plans to build on the strengths of existing programs, as well as the alignment with U.S. foreign policy goals and institutional as well as student needs:

“In the next year we want to make sure that our work builds on the strengths of [our] programmes and really responds to the feedback that we have gotten from all the constituencies in the field. And making sure that we are aligning our goals and objectives not only with our foreign policy goals but making sure that they are responsive to the needs of institutions and students as well”.