College of Health and Human Performance

A Lasting Impression

First college-wide study abroad brings HHP students from all majors together

A Lasting Impression

"...students were given a sports psychology lecture outside the Colosseum with tales of the gladiators woven in."

by Manny Rea

Last summer, HHP took members of its undergraduate cohort on a study abroad trip to Italy, a trip to the Boot that happens about every three years. This expedition, however, is the first of its kind to bring all departments together. This summer, students head to London and Paris.

“The first college-wide study abroad program was the culmination of collective, dedicated effort among many HHP stakeholders to fulfill a longstanding vision of engaging faculty, staff, and students from the entire HHP family in a rich and exciting common study abroad experience,” Chris Janelle, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology and associate dean for academic and student affairs, said.  “The common experience not only provided an amazing opportunity for global engagement, but it was viewed through the eyes, minds and perspective of participants from our wide and varied HHP disciplines,” he added.

Last year’s trip took 43 students and four faculty through historical cities including Venice, Florence and Rome — all places bound with opportunities to learn for all the majors. For example, students were given a sports psychology lecture outside the Colosseum with tales of the gladiators woven in. Others in the tourism major were taught in St. Mark’s Square and then asked to interview local restaurant owners for a class on “the European café.”

In other moments, faculty would integrate their teachings together through excursions that combined students with different backgrounds, said Michael Fitzgerald, HHP’s director of career development and global engagement who also joined the trip. “It allowed HHP students who maybe never get to talk to people in other HHP majors to get to know them and learn about what they do,” Fitzgerald said.

Cyntrice Thomas, Ph.D., JD, instructional assistant professor and graduate coordinator in the department of sport management, also noticed this collaboration among students while on the trip. “It was nice when they were able to socialize and interact in group excursions and their free time to explore,” Thomas said. “I think many of them made friends and met people outside of their classes that they wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to meet.”

The teamwork across disciplines applied to the faculty side as well. “Having other instructors on the study abroad was a positive because I was able to bounce ideas off of my colleagues and it was nice to have others there for support and friendship,” Thomas added.

The trip to Italy also helped to refine the educational framework for future studies abroad. Traditionally, some courses were taught on the same day which meant students may have needed to get from one location to the next in a short timeframe. Now, professors will only teach one per day to give ample time for material. “Ultimately, these challenges led to opportunities for enhancement of the inaugural and forthcoming experiences,” Janelle said.

Up next for HHP includes a second cross-discipline expedition to London and Paris where students will get another chance to engage with their peers from across the college.