SRU’s faculty-led study abroad programs give students international experience


Stockholm, Sweden

More than 200 Slippery Rock University students from 12 faculty-led programs will travel abroad during spring break, including two groups traveling to Stockholm, Sweden, to learn about the country’s innovative practices in corporate communications and its education system.

March 7, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Classes won't meet at Slippery Rock University next week due to spring break, but for the more than 200 students participating in the University's study abroad program, it will be class as usual albeit at venues around the world stretching from Mexico City to London to Athens. Twelve faculty-led groups representing SRU will travel abroad, March 8-17.

"Faculty-led programs are a way for our students to experience another country and culture through a group experience," said Jenny Kawata, SRU director of global exchanges and partnerships. "They are a short, quick introduction to that culture, and we're hoping students develop intercultural skills and meet the University's curricular goals."

Highlighting this year's programs are two groups from separate academic departments visiting Sweden and Denmark, learning about the innovative practices used by organizations in Scandinavian countries.

For the second straight year, Allison Peiritsch, assistant professor of communication, is leading a trip to Copenhagen and Stockholm, March 8-16.

"Scandinavia is home to leading-edge integrated communication theory and practice," Peiritsch said. "Denmark and Sweden are home to global headquarters of innovative multinational companies known for their advanced public relations and integrated marketing communication practice. This international experience is meant to introduce students to the kind of sophisticated thinking necessary in a complex global marketplace. In addition, Denmark and Sweden are attractive for out-of-classroom learning because both countries are consistently ranked among the top five in terms of the world's most literate nations and for quality of life, advanced social support systems and leadership on issues ranging from gender equality to environmental policy."

In conjunction with the Case Studies in Public Relation/Integrated Marketing Communication class, students will meet marketing and communication leaders at the global headquarters of two companies, Pandora jewelers and home appliance manufacturer Electrolux; meet a communication theorist at the Copenhagen Business School; and visit a Stockholm-based public affairs firm.

Linda Zane, associate professor of elementary education and early childhood, is leading her sixth trip to Sweden, March 8-16, but new this year is a day trip to Copenhagen. Students will explore Sweden's high-quality, child-centered education system by attending lectures and seminars at Kristianstad University and visiting a preschool. They will also visit the International English School in Stockholm and tourist attractions such as the Vasa Museum and the Royal Palace.

"Opportunities for SRU students to travel abroad enhance their learning so they can develop different viewpoints and use them to address local, regional, global and cultural issues," said Brad Wilson, SRU's associate provost for transformational experiences. "Based on these experiences, they're able to achieve one of our University's student learning outcomes, which is developing a worldview that acknowledges diversity and global interdependence."

The other 10 faculty-led programs traveling abroad include:

-Bruce Boliver, assistant professor of hospitality, event management and tourism; and Bruce Orvis, associate professor of business, are leading a trip to Italy, March 7-15, where students will learn about the retail and hospitality industries. Students will visit Italian cities such as Florence, Venice and Rome; attend a glass blowing demonstration and a winery tour; and visit tourist attractions such as the Colosseum, St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums.

-Jennifer Willford, professor of psychology, is leading a trip to London, England, March 9-17, where students will explore the psychological impact of modern warfare on children. The United Kingdom is at the forefront of a refugee crisis where unaccompanied children are traveling throughout Europe seeking asylum. The students will attend workshops at the Anna Freud Centre to learn about the effects trauma has on children and, for historical context, they will visit the Foundling Hospital and Museum, Britain's first home for abandoned children.

-Douglas Strahler, assistant professor of communication, is leading a trip to London, England, March 8-16, for students in his Social Media course to explore the city's digital technologies and social media landscape. In addition to visiting tourist attractions such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Stonehenge, the students will meet with communication professionals that include a London lifestyle blogger, a marketing and digital officer from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Nicole Yale, a 2010 SRU graduate with a degree in communication, who is an account director at VaynerMedia, a digital agency based in London.

-John Golden, assistant professor of business, is leading a trip to Costa Rica, March 8-17, to study the country's leading sustainability practices and visit ecotourism sites that include rain forests, beaches and volcanoes.

-David Jordan, associate professor of business; and Jerry Chmielewski, dean of the College of Health, Environment and Sciences; are leading a trip to Greece, March 9-17, to learn about Greece's single-payer health care system. In addition to visiting Greece's popular ancient ruins and other historical sites, the students will visit a physician clinic in Chania and cancer hospital in Athens.

-Alice Del Vecchio, assistant professor of interdisciplinary programs, is leading a trip to Greece, March 7-15, to help two nonprofit organizations, Caritas and Homogelo, serve their clients, which include children who are victims of violence, and deliver clothing donations. The group will also tour popular museums and sites in Athens, Delphi and three Greek islands: Hydra, Poros and Aegina.

-Aksel Casson, assistant professor of interdisciplinary programs, is leading a trip to Mexico, March 8-17, to tour archaeological sites, museums and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, visiting locations from downtown Mexico City to beaches and caves of the Yucatan. The purpose is to experience the culture of Mexico as informed by the archaeology of past Aztec and Mayan civilizations.

-Michelle Amodei, assistant professor of elementary education and early childhood, is leading a trip to Italy in conjunction with her Leadership, Advocacy and Program Development class.

- Jennifer Nightingale, associate professor of business, is leading a trip to Ireland for students in her Management Information Systems class.

-Kurt Pitluga, assistant professor of art, is a leading a trip to the Netherlands and Belgium for students in his Art History Seminar class.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal 724.738.4854 |