Colby-Bates-Bowdoin study abroad program awarded Mellon Grant

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges a $490,000 grant to support study abroad programs. The grant will support the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) Off-Campus Study Consortium for the next three years.

Colby, Bates and Bowdoin work as partners to run study abroad centers in Cape Town, South Africa, London, England, and Quito, Ecuador. The centers offer a wide variety of courses designed to make full use of the instructional and cultural resources of the regions.

The CBB program was launched in 1999 with funds from a 1998 Mellon grant. To date, 300 students and 25 faculty members from the three colleges have participated. As a rule, students are in their junior year upon participating in the study abroad program.

“While the focus of the grant is international study, it has promoted wonderful collaboration among the faculty of the three colleges in Maine as they plan programs together,” said Stephen W. Sawyer, associate dean of students at Bates and director of the college’s off-campus study programs.

“The grant has allowed our faculty to join our students abroad, to share the wonderful learning experiences that occur in the field,” Sawyer said.

CBB faculty and students come from varied disciplines, and courses have been offered abroad in anthropology, art history, biology, English, ecology, government, history, mathematics, performing arts, sociology and Spanish language.

Participating students receive instruction by CBB faculty and local scholars. Courses are given at the program’s three centers and at the University of East London and Cape Town University. Local field trips are integrated into the courses.

Students also interact with local families, and do community service and internships. In Cape Town, CBB students tutor high school students in basic science, work in an HIV-awareness campaign and help communities grow cash crops. In Quito, they work at schools, an orphanage, a children’s rights organization and a center for rehabilitating prostitutes. In London, students volunteer in local business, government, media and arts organizations.

The new grant from the New York-based Mellon Foundation will strengthen and solidify the management of the CBB program through support of its central administration office, which is located at Bowdoin and charged with integrating the resources, expertise and common goals of the three colleges.

The grant will support efforts to build and broaden connections between the three campuses and London, Cape Town and Quito. Increasing student enrollments, maximizing educational opportunities at the off-campus locations, making the program financially viable and funding program evaluation are also important goals of the grant.

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