Goucher College said Monday that it would begin requiring all of its students to undertake some international study before they graduate.
Administrators at the private college in Baltimore said they believed the requirement was a first among traditional liberal arts institutions, an assertion that experts on international education said they could not conclusively confirm. At least one other institution, Soka University of America, a four-year old college that focuses on humanistic learning, says it requires all juniors to study abroad.
Beginning next fall, Goucher will require all students to participate in at least a three-week intensive course abroad, if not a semester or yearlong program in another country, in order to graduate. The college plans to give each student a $1,200 voucher to offset the costs of international travel.
In a letter to alumni and students about the effort, Sanford J. Ungar, Goucher's president, described it as an "audacious, groundbreaking move, perhaps, but we believe it's high time that somebody made it."
"We live in a world that requires real international awareness beyond the bits and pieces one may pick up by listening to the radio, watching television news, or reading a daily newspaper or weekly magazine," Ungar wrote. "It is simply not possible anymore to maintain the illusion that our lives, our learning, and our work somehow take place independently of what’s going on elsewhere on the planet.
"We in higher education have a responsibility to our students to equip them with the knowledge and experience they will need to engage this world, to participate in it fully and responsibly, and to succeed both as individuals and as citizens of an increasingly interconnected global community."