WKU to host statewide symposium


WKU is hosting a statewide study abroad symposium for students and faculty who have been abroad and for those interested in someday going abroad.

The event will take place Saturday at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center. A total of 55 presenters, both students and faculty, from 11 universities will share their experiences from studying abroad. Events begin at 9 a.m. with registration and a reception. Presentations begin at 11 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.

Adjunct instructor of geography Erin Greunke is coordinating the event, which is cosponsored by the International Education Council. She said the idea for the symposium developed while working on her master’s thesis in 2010.

“I wanted something that explored what goes on past getting to go somewhere,” Greunke said.

During the symposium, students will share their perspectives on studying abroad, highlighting the academic rigors of international education, Greunke said.

Faculty will focus on how to advise and prepare students for studying abroad, as well as preparing other faculty to lead groups, she said.

Greunke said the numbers of participants and the number of presenting universities have grown since last year. Currently, schools from Tennessee and Indiana are scheduled to present, she said. Greunke expects it to grow in involvement in upcoming years.

According to the Study Abroad and Global Learning website, presenting at the symposium “was open to students at any post-secondary institutions in Kentucky who studied abroad during a term beginning from the Fall of 2009 through Summer 2011.”

IEC chairman Dan Myers is one of the faculty presenters and is helping organize the event.

“Hopefully, there’ll be sparking of interests from both students and faculty to hop on a plane and go somewhere,” Myers said.

Myers said he and two other faculty members, Paula Potter and Michelle Trawick, will try to address the misconceptions faculty can have about sponsoring a study abroad trip.

“The presentation identifies some of the things that can reduce anxiety faculty might have,” Myers said. “We’re trying to paint a realistic view of how it really is leading a study abroad group.”

Greunke encouraged students to attend, even if they don’t know where they’d like to study abroad.

“It’s a good opportunity for students to see what fellow students have done,” she said. “It’ll also provide insight for visitors if they are interested in studying abroad somewhere.”