Why does Gordon-Conwell deliver some of its curriculum abroad?
There is a growing trend in higher education toward learning that is more global in its perspective and contextual in its delivery. Indeed, 65% of universities now include international education in their institutional mission statements, and 80% are “actively working to increase study abroad participation.”
Likewise, a growing number of students value an internationalized education. For example, the number of American students choosing to study abroad tripled between 1986 to 2008, from 48,283 to 262,416 students.
A further trend in higher education is away from discrete study abroad experiences toward more robust curriculum integration. The long-term impact of education abroad is enhanced when global learning becomes a seamless part of one’s degree program.
Traditionally seen as a junior year experience, education abroad now extends into graduate and professional schools. In 2009, 10.5% of all students studying abroad were doing so as part of a graduate degree program.
Growing numbers of professional schools are imbedding study abroad into their professional training and curriculum. Students’ vocational preparation is enhanced by the opportunity to see the global implications and applications of their professional practice, be it medicine, law, business or ministry.
While only a minority of seminaries deliver some of their curriculum abroad, Gordon-Conwell believes such opportunities are integral to our mission, and essential preparation for effective ministry in the multi-cultural and global world in which our students will ultimately minister.
Who facilitates Contextual Learning Courses and what is their focus?
While a GCTS faculty member is listed as the professor of record, global courses are typically enhanced through liberal use of in-country resources and guest scholars. A high priority is placed on multiple levels of cultural immersion.
The content of global courses will generally rotate between Biblical Studies, Theology, Church History, Missions, Ethics, Educational Ministries, Preaching and Counseling.
Are global courses ever open to Gordon-Conwell alumni and friends?
GCTS alumni and friends are welcome to participate in selected global education courses.
Alumni and friends find that the content of global education courses can provide a rich background for upcoming Bible studies or sermon series. In some cases, professional development funds from their churches are available to help support such preparation.
Interested alumni and friends submit a formal application to the faculty member of record. Upon acceptance, alumni and friends must formalize their intent to participate by submitting a non-refundable $150.00 deposit.
Because alumni and friends may have previously taken an on-campus version of the course, audits will be permitted. Accepted alumni and friends applicants register with the Admissions Office as non-degree seeking “Visiting Students.”
While alumni and friends applicants may not displace matriculated GCTS students nor the spouses of matriculated students, “Visiting Student” applications will be reviewed and acted on by the faculty leader by, or around, June 1 of the academic year prior.
How do I prepare ahead of time to gain the most from this opportunity?
Acceptance into a global education course assumes a willingness to participate in several pre-departure orientation sessions. Arrangements for these sessions will vary depending on where the alumni participant lives.
Faculty leaders will typically recommend or require particular readings and/or assignments to be completed prior to departure.
What additional fees are associated with global education courses?
Most global education classes are designed as three-credit hour courses. Official registration for accepted “Visiting Students” (ie: alumni) takes place during the term when the course is offered. It is from this tuition that faculty leaders receive a stipend for leading the course.
An additional “course fee” will be added to the Visiting Student’s bill, which covers on-the-ground expenses such as food, accommodations, guest speakers and local transportation. (In some cases, airfare may be rolled in.) The course fee calculation reflects the total logistical cost of delivering the course. This figure is divided by the number of participants in the course. Course fees typically range between $2,500 – $4,000 per participant.
The “course fee” also includes the cost of travel insurance (additional to the major medical coverage required of all participants). The insurance policy, negotiated by GCTS, will cover such additional items as medical evacuation and expatriation. The cost of travel insurance is approximately $35.00 per participant.
The “course fee” for a global education class is posted on the Visiting Student’s account during fall semester of the academic year when the course is taken. (For example, the class would be posted during fall semester for courses delivered in J-term or one of the Summer Sessions of the academic year in question.) As with other fees, payment is due in full at the start of the semester. However, if participants elect to pay off the balance of their “course fee” throughout the semester, standard non-payment fees apply. The recommended payment schedule for participants willing to make non-payment fees is September 15, October 15 and November 15. The balance must be paid in full by the published deadline.
In those rare cases where a participant is accepted into an international course after full payment is due, acceptance is conditional on immediate payment of the fee in full. Late acceptances may be subject to a higher “course fee” since earlier negotiated group rates may not extend to late acceptances.
Is there a published refund policy?
Due to financial commitments made well in advance for airline tickets, accommodations and other deposits, it is not possible to guarantee the amount faculty leaders may be able to recover from vendors if a participant drops the course following September 15. In some cases this might not be finally negotiated until the faculty member is on the ground in-country.