The faculty director role is diverse, intensive, challenging and highly rewarding. The job is demanding of a faculty member’s time and energy both in the planning and preparation stages, and while abroad. While it is not for everyone, most directors cite the job as one that provides unique opportunities to teach outside the classroom, to interact with and understand students on a new level, and to grow personally and professionally.
“Faculty must wear multiple hats when they lead students abroad, from teacher to counselor to administrator.” (Goode, 2008). Faculty members are accustomed to the responsibilities associated with teaching an on-campus course but when teaching on a study abroad program, there are many additional responsibilities to consider.
Faculty Director responsibilities can be broken into different categories that span the time from planning, to while abroad, and even upon return:
- Teaching Abroad
- Classes are rigorous, but being immersed in an international setting also makes the content more relevant and classes memorable. The intensive nature brings faculty and students together in a unique way, allowing faculty to connect with students in small classes and on excursions, and provides a unique opportunity for mentoring.
- Experiential learning and reflection are key components of high impact educational experience and enhance intercultural learning outcomes for students on study abroad programs. Examples include: having regular guided reflection dialogues, journal keeping, pre-program goal setting, mid-program self-evaluation, service-learning, and many more.
- Resources to support and encourage faculty to include experiential learning components in their teaching abroad are available online (see Faculty Director Grants, Workshops, and Training). The Study Abroad Office also partners hosts workshops addressing this important topic.
- Program Administration
- Supporting the Student Abroad
Becoming a study abroad program faculty director means faculty take on the role of an administrator, budget manager, recruiter, travel logistics planner, cultural guide, diplomat, translator and interpreter, decision-maker, on-site student services coordinator, counselor and judicial officer, in addition to the teaching role. Due to the multifaceted role, faculty directors are encouraged to have program assistants when program structure and/or higher enrollments necessitate the additional assistance.
The Study Abroad Office will assist faculty directors at all stages of program development and management, providing training, resources, and support.
For some fun, light reading about the different roles:
- Faculty Are From Mars, Study-Abroad Officers Are From Venus (Part I)
- Bridging the Divide Between Study-Abroad Officers and the Faculty (Part II)