National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version


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From Internationalizing Honors, ed. Kim Klein and Mary Kay Mulvaney (Lincoln, NE: National Collegiate Honors Council, 2020)


Copyright © 2020 National Collegiate Honors Council


Education abroad has the potential to leave a deep and transformative impact on the lives of honors students. That education abroad and a broader focus on the larger world beyond the boundaries of campuses comprises a core value of many honors programs and colleges comes as no surprise. In addition to providing a rigorous education and undergraduate research opportunities, many honors programs aspire to making their students more cosmopolitan in their worldview. The philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah explains that cosmopolitanism blends two important values: it stretches us “beyond those to whom we are related by the ties of kith and kind, and even the more formal ties of a shared citizenship,” and helps us recognize that “[p]eople are different . . . and there is much to learn from our differences” (xv). Cosmopolitanism has intrinsic and extrinsic value for honors students and indeed for all students studying abroad. Studying abroad exposes students to art, languages, philosophies, and cultures that can enrich their understanding of the range of human expression and ideas, and they learn important lessons about their own humanity and the world around them. On its own terms, this engagement with an increasingly complex world, opens their eyes to relevant and living alternatives to many of the beliefs and practices they embrace, often only through the force of custom, habit, or convenience. Education abroad also has an instrumental purpose in building and sharpening essential intellectual and interpersonal skills that play a critical role in students’ academic, personal, and professional development (Dwyer; Dwyer and Peters). While abroad, students may develop important critical reasoning skills and intellectual virtues (Nguyen), as well as greater confidence, maturity, empathy, and creativity (Gray et al.; Maddux and Galinsky). International experiences are also linked to the honors thesis project in unexpected but significant ways, and they sometimes alter career paths and graduate degrees pursued after graduation (Markus et al.). Finally, education abroad uniquely prepares students to compete for selective international post-graduate opportunities, including the Fulbright Student Program and the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. These benefits appear to impact students positively long after graduation (Mulvaney, “Long-Term Impact”—also reprinted in this volume).