With study abroad travel to be prohibited at least through June 30, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is offering a series of summer classes at half the regular tuition rate to provide students global experiences without international travel.
More than 20 global experiential learning programs will be offered, covering a variety of subjects and addressing compelling world challenges. Examples include peace process negotiation, entrepreneurship in Rwanda, the rise of China and the Black Lives Matter movement around the world.
No class will cost more than $350 in tuition, plus standard fees. The special tuition rate of $116.55 per hour is less than half the regular in-state base rate of $259 per credit hour. The classes are open to degree-seeking Huskers of any major and some meet the university’s general education, or ACE, requirements. In addition, scholarships provided through the Global Experiences Innovation Fund will cover additional program costs, such as guest lectures, virtual tours, workshops and local site visits.
“Even though the global pandemic has temporarily curtailed our study abroad programs, these Global Experience programs offer the benefits of international experience without physically going abroad,” said Josh Davis, associate vice chancellor for global affairs. “These courses focus on intercultural and experiential learning through engagement with the people in our own community and by engaging partners around the world using technology. It is all part of our effort to reimagine what constitutes a global experience at Nebraska.”
The university’s N2025 strategic plan set out an ambitious goal for 10% of students to study abroad each year. But COVID-19 forced the recall of all students from education abroad programs in spring 2020 and led to the cancellation of all student travel for three subsequent terms. The university’s COVID-19 task force recently decided to extend the prohibition at least through June 30, with an assessment by the end of the spring semester on whether travel can resume July 1.
For many students, time is running out to go abroad before graduation, while the financial hardships caused by the pandemic have reinforced perceptions that study abroad experiences are financially unattainable for many families.
Davis said the idea behind reducing tuition for a pilot series of Global Experience classes this summer is to motivate students to be early adopters of the program. Colleagues at other Big Ten institutions have argued that early success in virtual global experiences depends on charging no more than the regular rate of tuition and fees.
In summer 2019, 391 degree-seeking students participated in study abroad programs. The goal is for about the same number to participate in the summer 2021 Global Experience classes.
The program also offers students an option to pursue a Global Remote Internship, which allows them to pursue tangible career skills and international experience, no matter their location. The internships, approximately 25 hours per week, provide six credit hours at a cost of $650. They include customized placements with a dedicated supervisor and career coaching.
The experiential programs differ from typical online courses because they replicate learning outcomes like those gained with education abroad programs. They feature hands-on activities, expert guest lecturers from abroad and virtual tours to provide meaningful interactions with other cultures and countries. They draw upon diverse cultures and internationally focused organizations in the Lincoln area to gain deeper understanding of communities students might not be familiar with. The classes explore why people settled in Nebraska, how they got here, and the cultural traditions – including food – that they brought with them.