Can you build a global perspective in your students with only a short-term stay?

Can you build a global perspective in your students with only a short-term stay?

You may know about the four P’s of marketing, but do you know the six P’s for successful international programmes? In Workshop 15 at the EAIE Annual Conference in Glasgow, Building global perspectives: high-impact, short-term study programmes, we will introduce you to the six P’s and show how they can help your programme transform participating students, even in just a short stay abroad.

The prevailing wisdom in the international education community has been that our students will only undergo the transformation into ‘global citizens’ when they have been away for a significant period of time – at least a semester, but preferably a year. Programmes of two to four weeks duration were not taken very seriously as a vehicle for internationalisation, but more recent research has shown that significant changes in attitudes, openness and intercultural perspective can occur even with a short period away. It is increasingly clear that the teaching, the orientation activities, the onsite undertakings, and the mentoring surrounding travel are key to maximising the impact of foreign immersion.

The six P’s

Patrons – Like all other aspects of successful internationalisation activities, it is essential to have champions in important roles. Whether it is a departmental chair, the university president, or an invitation from an important partner, you may need their help in convincing others to disengage from the ‘normal’ way things are done. Not everyone is supportive. What keeps colleagues enthusiastic about the venture?

Programmes – What do you want your students to learn academically and personally? Besides the coursework, what other learning opportunities are presented socially, linguistically, aesthetically, historically, and politically during travel?

Partners – Even a visit to a local parliament or city hall requires contacts and support. Finding partners, local guides and travel agents, academics, other students and appropriate accommodation takes long-distance relationships. Developing a checklist so that all parties share the same expectations on deliverables is essential to avoiding unfortunate incidents or surprises.

Paperwork – With administrative commitment, you can establish procedures, timelines, budgets, grading practices, safety backups, and cancellation policies. This, too, will help avoid surprises.

Promotion – Now you have a great programme, but how do you let everyone know about it? How do you position the opportunity as a ‘learning experience’ rather than a romp in the sun, or some other sort of vacation – not only to students, but sometimes to your colleagues as well?

Participants – How do you select and prepare students for this new experience? You can ensure a significant impact through careful orientation, giving students the tools for reflective learning by creating a baseline before they leave, as well as building in time and feedback during the time away. Helping participants explore their values and attitudes philosophically first – personal definitions of democracy, freedom, justice, etc – and then personally – marriage, gender roles, educational goals – reinforces that you are expecting deep thinking on their part. Ask that they keep a journal and create their personal ‘elevator speech’ – telling their experience in less than two minutes – for when they return.

Learning more

Workshop 15 is timely in that the number of short programmes is increasing rapidly across the globe in order to meet the educational needs of the considerable proportion of our students who cannot leave home for longer periods due to on-going family, employment, or financial obligations and constraints. Short-term programmes can allow for visits to places where a language barrier or a lack of a post-secondary presence presents challenges. They are more affordable, require less commitment from risk-averse students, allow departments to take advantage of ‘one time’ events in a target country, can provide an opportunity for faculty leaders to explore the desirability of committing to a deeper relationship with the region or institution, and can serve as a confidence builder for students who are eligible for a full semester programme later in their studies (Mullens & Cuper, 2012).

Workshop 15 is offered for faculty and staff who will be involved in the design and implementation of these types of programmes. Using the six P’s, we will explore the practical and pedagogical aspects of mounting programmes ‘somewhere else’. This course is for you whether you move to several locations or stay in one place and do day trips; whether you teach them yourself or rely on local personnel to enrich the experience; whether they are your own students you travel with or students you are hosting from other institutions. We will practise building robust itineraries, enriched curricula, and approaches to teaching reflective learning so students can really grow and gain intercultural insight through their experience.

My colleagues and I have experienced remarkable personal growth in the attitudes and global understanding of our students in periods as short as 10 days. Through discussion, practice, sharing and listening to the experiences of others, but most importantly, through teaching students to articulate the personal impact of their experience, we have been able to identify supportive Patrons, develop creative Programmes, find helpful Partners and contacts, formalise processes and streamline Paperwork, imaginatively Promote our offerings, and transform Participants!

We are delighted to share our approach with you.


Mullens, Jo Beth and Cuper, Pru (2012) Fostering Global Citizenship through Faculty-Led International Programs, Charlotte, NC, Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Catherine is the former Vice President International, External Affairs and New Initiatives at Capilano University, Canada