The following is from the Aug. 5, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

SMU urges students to think globally in programs abroad

Study abroad students
From left: Steve DePaul, SMU director of Education Abroad; Srinivasa Sai Teza Mukkavilli, an MBA student from India; and Paul W. Ludden, SMU provost and vice president. Photo by Brent Worsham, The Dallas Morning News.

The Dallas Morning News

It seems like yesterday when a few visionary souls on the Hilltop chose "Tomorrow the World" as their slogan and were asked if that meant seeing the boundaries of the Park Cities without the benefit of glasses.

But the old jokes about an insular Southern Methodist University are no longer true. Foreign programs galore have changed the school's image.

Steve DePaul, SMU's director of education abroad, explained the rationale that drives this rapid growth of study abroad.

"Job recruiters put a strong emphasis on study abroad because more companies are placing young workers overseas. In this global economy, workers in technical and business fields, in particular, need to adapt quickly to life abroad and different ways of working.

"Likewise, with more foreign nationals joining American corporate teams, it's critical that workers have the ability to understand where people are coming from," Mr. DePaul said.

"Our focus is no longer solely on study abroad but increasingly on education abroad.

"It's not just about traditional university experiences, but about internships, service learning and work with nongovernmental organizations."

Mr. DePaul said that study abroad used to emphasize languages and the humanities. Now there's more awareness that engineers and scientists can also benefit from training globally.

"When creating new programs, we consider student interests, the SMU curriculum and what's going on in the world, and always balance that with our students' safety," he said.

"The majority of American students who study abroad go to Western Europe, but the fastest-growing programs are in China and India, which stand to be critical in the global economy this century and next.

"A couple of decades ago, programs in Japan were popular. And after the Cold War, there was a lot of interest in Eastern Europe, but not all of those programs survived. The key is to build links that last."

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