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Understanding the big picture

It is said that a truly educated person sees the big picture and understands and appreciates the rich detail composing that picture – connecting the dots, maybe creatively reorganizing the dots, but not obliterating them. WAICU-member colleges and universities embrace this philosophy and put it into practice in a dazzling variety of ways: self-designed majors, interdisciplinary studies, independent study, internships, work, athletics, extracurricular activities, and much more.

One way to achieve a broader understanding and appreciation of the big picture is to encourage students to Study Away in countries or in settings distinctly different from those they may know. Equipped with the foundational learning which takes place on campus, they are encouraged to continue to learn in the real world and around the world – a world that is different and maybe a little uncomfortable, but, once experienced and understood, makes life richer, their understanding deeper, and opens the door to opportunities unimaginable before the Study Away experience.

WAICU members have individually provided Study Away opportunities for generations. Based on WAICU’s mission of “working together for educational opportunity,” WAICU has now launched a Study Away collaborative program, opening individual members’ Study Away opportunities to students enrolled in other WAICU members. The program goals are to increase student enrollment in Study Away programs; to increase understanding of the opportunities Study Away can bring; and to enable member colleges and universities to expand and diversify their offerings while not breaking the budget or duplicating the efforts at other members.

A brainstorming session of the WAICU Board of Directors (the presidents) in the spring of 2017 launched this new initiative. Through an exhaustive due diligence process coordinated by WAICU, utilizing an advisory task force of WAICU members, the new program is now being implemented.

WAICU has received national recognition for its 40-plus cost-saving collaborative initiatives. The new WAICU Study Away program represents a broadening of our services to include more on the academic “side of the house.” As is the case with any experiment, we hope to gain knowledge and to continue to improve the program, to make it ever better. Our colleges and universities are hotbeds of innovation and creativity. We embrace what we have learned and continually learn more.