Background on the Program

St. Petersburg FSA 2009

The Fall Semester Abroad (FSA) programs provide an exceptional opportunity to teach and work with students overseas.

Two Bates faculty lead each program, typically with one individual serving as a director with the other assisting.  One program is offered each fall in a setting with one of the six modern languages taught at Bates.  A second program may be offered if the programs have special drawing power and are regionally and thematically distinct.  Twenty-five students participate with all classes represented, including entering students when space is available.  Prior knowledge of the language is not required of students since both faculty courses are taught in English and the language courses are taught at various skill levels.  As a result, the program is often the first experience abroad for many of the students.  While the director may be from in any department or program at Bates, he or she needs be skilled in the language of the setting.  The accompanying faculty member may or may not have a background in the language.  Support is provided for family members to accompany or visit the faculty during the semester.

Leading an FSA program is a major undertaking since the faculty are entirely responsible for all aspects of the program: conceptualizing and teaching the two thematic courses; making travel and local arrangements, including housing and classroom space; hiring and supervising the adjunct faculty; recruiting students; budgeting; arranging field trips; monitoring student life abroad; and coping with unanticipated events.  This long (and incomplete) list may seem exhausting, but it is also true that the faculty who participate on a program find it tremendously rewarding and rejuvenating.  Living overseas for a semester, additional program and personal travel, teaching students “on-site” for many of the course topics, and interacting with students so fully is intense and intensely rewarding.

A “Fall Semester Abroad Program Planning Handbook” is available on the Additional Information for Faculty web page and in the Off-Campus Study Office. The Handbook provides step by step information on designing and undertaking a program.  A key to managing the burden is for the two faculty members to share the various tasks, to recruit students early and often, and to work with a host organization abroad that is experienced in providing many of the services needed.

The Off-Campus Study Committee selects these programs in consultation with the Dean of Faculty and has a multi-year planning framework.  Typically, proposals are requested during the fall for programs to be undertaken two years ahead.  (The program for the upcoming year is already in its “recruiting phase.”)  Programs in the “less commonly studied” languages at Bates – Chinese, German, Japanese, and Russian – are given a preference since a goal is to highlight and provide intensive instruction in these languages.  The Objectives and Selection Criteria page provides additional information on the criteria developed by the faculty and used by the Off-Campus Study Committee to evaluate proposals.

Faculty interested in proposing an FSA program should first consult with Stephen Sawyer, Director of Off-Campus Study programs, in Roger Williams 124.  Faculty who have led programs in the past are also available to provide advice.  Faculty who wish to pursue this opportunity should then consult the Proposing a Fall Semester Abroad Program web page.