CBB Goes Worldwide

Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin have long been fierce adversaries on the playing fields, and the Bates Song Book includes more than a few references to the smiting of bears and mules. But recent years have seen more cooperative ventures among the three schools, including the CBB Library Consortium and now the CBB Study-Abroad Consortium.

Greater interaction among CBB faculty is one of the benefits of the study-abroad venture, says Stephen Sawyer, associate dean of students at Bates and director of the off-campus study program. “Individuals who have taught here and have busy lives here, for 20 years, are meeting colleagues from the other two colleges for the first time,” he says.

The CBB program also “promotes close interaction between students and faculty. The relationships that are started last through graduation,” says Sawyer.

Sharing profits and losses from the programs, each of the three schools owns and manages a study-abroad center: in Cape Town, South Africa (administered by Bowdoin); London, England (Colby); and Quito, Ecuador (Bates). The original CBB faculty steering committee, chaired by Richard Wagner, professor of psychology at Bates, chose Quito after deciding that Ecuador was an ideal location in which to investigate the interrelationships between political, anthropological, and environmental issues.

With about 60 percent of Bates students going abroad during their time on campus, one goal of the consortium is to infuse CBB-caliber academics into each school’s study-abroad offerings (generally, academic rigor is an uneven prospect in many non-CBB study-abroad programs). As such, each CBB center offers up to three academic programs (such as history or biology), consistent with the academic standards of the home campuses, taught by CBB faculty and local adjuncts.

The consortium was initially funded by an $850,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seed grant, and the centers opened in 1999.