First they went to Shanghai. Next they went to Rio. This summer, 30 UW–Madison students will take part in faculty-led programs in Botswana and India—new locations offered through the Global Gateway Program.
The Global Gateway Programs offer students the opportunity to explore issues of global significance and experience a new culture as part of a cohort of 15 Badgers led by a UW–Madison faculty member. The 4-week summer study abroad programs are open to 15 need-based first and second-year students for each location. The program is fully funded for students, including airfare.
“Engaging 30 students in locations that would greatly aid their understanding of the world from a perspective different from their own is a core goal of the Global Gateway Program,” said Dan Gold, director of International Academic Programs. “We are delighted to be able to offer two of these critical learning experiences for students each summer.”
Neil Kodesh, associate professor of history and an affiliate of the African Studies Program, will be leading the program in Botswana. According to Kodesh, Botswana is a prime location to study a number of issues, including global health, conservation, human and animal interaction, and the government’s role in resource management.
“I like the idea of the Global Gateway Program and that it is designed to provide opportunities for students to study abroad who might not have the opportunity for financial or other reasons,” Kodesh said. “Anything you can do to facilitate global engagement for these individuals is amazing, so I am very excited to be a part of this.”
Participants in Botswana will take two courses. Kodesh will teach Intro to Southern Africa, which will focus on Botswana and explore topics in history, culture, and politics. A second course on Health and the Environment will be taught by a faculty member form the University of Botswana.
While the courses will provide context for the experience, Kodesh emphasized that excursions throughout Botswana and experiences in and around Gaborone, where the program will be based, will allow students to develop an in-depth understanding of Botswana’s people, culture, and heritage.
“My hope is to cultivate a sensibility in students so they feel comfortable going to places in and outside of the United States and learn about those spaces in a way that is productive,” Kodesh said. “That is not something you achieve in one month. But I am hoping that this program is where that starts and something they can always carry with them.”
Anthony Cerulli, associate professor of Asian languages and cultures, will lead the program in India. Participants will take two courses, Religious Pluralism in India, taught by Cerulli, and Political Pluralism in India, taught by a local faculty expert. Understanding the unique role religion and politics play in India is key to exploring and engaging the nation.
“Religion and politics go hand in hand in India,” Cerulli said. “The courses will give students a sense of how the world’s largest democracy, defined in their own constitution as a secular democracy, operates when multiple religions are being practiced. India lends itself well to comparison with the United States in this way.”
Cerulli and the program participants will begin the month in New Delhi, where they will examine the religious diversity that established the city and how it has changed over time. Next, the group will go to Bhimtal, in the foothills north of New Delhi, and visit places where multiple religions practice, while also learning about local culture such as cooking, yoga from traditional roots to current practices, and interact with NGOs that help facilitate organic farming and work with children with disabilities.
Cerulli also plans to take students to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Taj Mahal, and other locations before flying out of New Delhi.
While students will be spending much of their time observing and learning about the culture, Cerulli noted that students will complete a report requiring them to delve further into topics that align with their own interests or career path.
“We want to make sure students are not only on site and observing, but also choose something of interest that will encourage them to engage the people while they are there,” Cerulli said. “This is transformative for understanding other people and to understanding one’s own approach to analyzing others.”
Applications for the summer 2019 Global Gateway Programs are accepted until January 18, 2019. The programs are open to all majors. The Global Gateway Programs are offered through a partnership between the Office of Student Financial Aid and International Academic Program (IAP)—the university’s central study abroad office.
“The Office of Student Financial Aid is honored to work with International Academic Programs to help our Badgers get the Global Gateway experience and look forward to the program’s continued success and future growth,” said Derek Kindle, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid.
Learn more about the Global Gateway Program, as well as Global Gateway Scholarships available for semester and yearlong study abroad program at studyabroad.wisc.edu/uwglobalgatewayinitiative.