The U.S. Senate has recognized the importance of study abroad programs and designated 2006 as the “Year of Study Abroad.” The resolution states “… ensuring that the citizens of the United States are globally literate is the responsibility of the educational system” (Durbin et al., 2005). Although this resolution is current, work to add a globalization component to education, including study abroad programs, has been underway for a number of years. Acker and Taylor (2000) reported the efforts of the North Central Region Colleges of Agriculture to globalize the undergraduate learning environment in response to the emerging importance of this topic (Ford Foundation, 1997; National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, Strategic Vision Committee, 2000; North Central Region Colleges of Agriculture Curricular Committee, 1989). Today, assisting future citizens to function effectively in a global environment is an integral part of the mission and strategic plan of many universities (McPherson, 2001). To help fulfill this part of their mission, many institutions of higher education include some form of an international perspectives requirement as part of their undergraduate curriculum (Crunkilton et al., 2003).
One of Iowa State University's goals is to “… prepare its students to meet the challenges of responsible citizenship and effective professional roles in a culturally diverse global community” (Iowa State University, 2006). All undergraduate students are required to complete three credits of International Perspectives, in which the learning outcomes include furthering students’ understanding of cultural diversity and interdependence on a global scale. Immersion in a foreign culture is often an effective way of meeting these objectives, and Iowa State University encourages study abroad experiences as a means of fulfilling the International Perspectives requirement (Iowa State University, 2006). Students can choose from a number of different programs across the university's colleges, including programs sponsored by the College of Agriculture. The Iowa State University College of Agriculture is second in the nation among colleges of agriculture in the number of undergraduates who study abroad. During the 2004 to 2005 academic year, the college offered study abroad opportunities in more than 20 countries on all seven continents (Woteki and Acker, 2004). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Horticulture Travel Course (Hort 496) to determine whether it meets the expected learning outcomes of the university's International Perspectives requirement and the College of Agriculture's expected competencies in international and multicultural awareness. These learning outcomes and competencies include promoting students’ understanding of cultural diversity and interdependence on a global scale, having awareness and understanding of cultural diversity within our own nation and around the world, and developing a global perspective on agricultural, environmental, economic, and natural resource issues.
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