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Pilot Study Abroad Class Visits NYU DC, State Department


This fall, students in an NYU Steinhardt pilot course, “Inside the Global Network University: Study Abroad and International Exchange at NYU,” took a day trip to NYU Washington, DC (NYU DC), to get an up-close look at how one of the University’s global academic sites operates. 

This trip was made possible through support from both the Steinhardt Office of Global Affairs and the Global Research Initiatives, Office of the Provost.

International Education students walk down a street in DC.

Taught by Heddy Lahmann, clinical assistant professor and deputy director of the graduate program in International Education, the course examines NYU’s global network of academic centers as a case study to explore the processes underlying international student exchange and study abroad. She developed the key concept for the class with Lisa Sasson, associate dean for global affairs and experiential learning, and Dana Burde, associate professor and director of the program in International Education.

“NYU is a global network with 12 academic sites and three degree-granting universities around the world. We’re a leading global university, and a real anomaly in the breadth of opportunities our students have to study away,” says Lahmann. “Many students come to our International Education program wanting a better understanding of how NYU’s global network does what it does, and this course brings them into that conversation.”

The 11 students taking the course are mainly from the International Education program, with several from the Department of Administration, Leadership, and Technology who are interested in higher education. The class is split just about evenly between international and domestic students as well, offering a range of perspectives.

“In one way or another, these students are all interested in study abroad and international exchange programs because they ultimately want to run these kinds of offices and projects at universities around the world, places like UNESCO, and other cultural exchange organizations,” says Lahmann.

Weekly class sessions include online talks with study abroad and international education staff and administrators across NYU’s different campuses, from Tel Aviv and Ghana to Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, in addition to in-person discussions with leadership across NYU’s global education offices. For an even more hands-on experience, Lahmann and the 11 students traveled to NYU DC to see one of the portal campuses in action on a Friday in October.

International Education students pose as a group in front of an NYU DC campus building.

“We got to hear from the site director about operations and staffing; it was really interesting to learn about how to manage a global site and all of the different people they work with,” says Nisha Shankar (MA ’24, International Education). “We also met with current NYU DC students, who gave us interesting perspectives on their experiences with Washington, DC, as a study away site, especially within NYU’s global network.”

In addition to the NYU DC visit, the group also went to the US State Department and met with public diplomacy and international education experts to learn more about where global universities sit within worldwide education strategies.

“We talked with field service officers (FSOs) at the State Department, including an NYU alum, and learned how they got their jobs and about their particular focus areas,” says Jillian Barker Langford (MA ’24, International Education), who is interested in leveraging her degree to encourage and assist Black students in pursuing study abroad and international education opportunities through institutions and platforms that allow them equitable access and exposure.

As far as learning objectives from both the DC trip and the course in general, Lahmann hopes that the students absorb insights from the practitioners they have met.

“It is so informative to learn from people out there actually doing the work, not just by reading the theory or policies or research articles,” says Lahmann. “Understanding the day-to-day activities and the challenges that come up can be really insightful, and to get to meet such a wide breadth of people involved in different capacities and see the deep strategic thinking that surrounds global education at a place like NYU is invaluable.”


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