Vol. 6, No.1
With coursework offered through Hopkins' Advanced Academic Programs (AAP), busy adults with big responsibilities such as full-time jobs and families can earn graduate degrees. Now, they can also study internationally, thanks to courses being offered across AAP's eight degree programs in far-flung cities including Nanjing, Florence, Bologna, Florence, Mexico City, and Berlin.
Such opportunities are new for part-time graduate programs, says AAP senior associate dean Sarah Steinberg. She also says that much of the impetus for the new courses came from students themselves. "It sounds cliché, but we really are a global environment now," says Steinberg. "Students don't just want to know what's up in the United States, but what's up everywhere."
When students expressed an interest in environmental problems in China, for example, the Environmental Sciences and Policy (ESP) program responded by offering a new course at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. While the majority of the course is field-based, students complete two weeks of intensive coursework at the center in Nanjing (a center jointly administered by Nanjing University and Hopkins' Nitze School of Advanced International Studies). The ESP program also has offered a course in Berlin. "We have chosen places where there has been much to do in the field, or [places] setting new standards or pulling ahead in terms of environmental policies," says Eileen McGurty, associate program chair.
The Communication in Contemporary Society program also offers a course (Comm-unication in China) in Nanjing, alternating summers with a course in European public relations offered at the SAIS facility in Bologna, Italy. Students take field trips as well as the courses. "These opportunities are simply not possible in the United States," says associate program chair Erika Falk. "Students can see the regional newspapers and meet important people doing international public relations and political communication."
Sometimes the location itself can offer its own inspiration. Students in the Writing program have participated in the Hopkins Conference on Craft by taking summer courses in Florence, Italy, one of the great literary and cultural capitals of the Western world. Associate program chair David Everett says the program is considering creating a class in literature from Florence, or a course specifically on Dante, whose home was Florence. The Writing program is also planning to start alternating its summer courses in Italy with a summer course in the U.S., likely in Bar Harbor, Me., or Newport, R.I., for students who can't go all the way to Italy.
To get an international experience, however, students don't have to travel at all. "We are very eclectic in what we offer," says Steinberg. "We don't offer just the traditional student-goes-to-a-university-in-foreign-country. It is much broader than that."
For example, students in AAP's Government program can sit in class with students from Fudan University in Shanghai and CIDE University in Mexico City without ever boarding an airplane—through videoconferencing. Participants use "smart" classrooms with a large screen in the front, where they can see the classroom in the other country. The courses are taught in English, and the teacher leading the discussion can call on students in both classrooms. "You get a whole different perspective talking to people from Mexico on immigration—for them it's migration, right?—and on trade," says Kathy Hill, senior associate program chair. "China and Mexico are huge trade partners for the United States."
The Advanced Biotechnology program has video-conferenced an international regulatory affairs course with students at Peking University. And in September, 35 students from an international pharmaceutical engineering management program in Peking came to the Montgomery County Campus in Maryland for a visit. "China is the biggest manufacturing country in the world but has never manufactured drugs approved by the FDA," says senior associate program chair Lynn Langer. "So there's a big interest in China to make our pharmaceuticals."
Steinberg says the response to international courses has been strong overall. One environmental sciences course does especially well, and unlike most of the courses, it's offered over January intersession—in the Bahamas. "That one is very unpopular," says Steinberg, sarcastically. "We can never fill it."