By DREW TWITCHELL
Spring 2012 marks the first time the New York City semester has been offered. Intended primarily for fine arts, and economics majors, the goal of the off campus semester in NYC is to offer different perspectives of cultural diversity. Internships the students engage in during this Big Apple semester let them branch out into the city without ever having to leave the United States. Currently, the internships are with alumni of Saint Lawrence who are keenly aware of the SLU bubble effect and are using their campus knowledge as a way to assess the difficulties for potential future interns.
The International and Intercultural Studies (IIS) program at SLU has been playing around with the idea of opening a NYC semester for quite some time. “The program is going very well and there has been a lot of success with the students and their internships,” says Karl Schonberg, the associate dean of the International and Intercultural Studies.
“Late in the fall, students interviewed by phone and Skype for multiple internships and they were then placed in positions based on their interests and the input of the internship sponsors,” says Katrina Johnson, special assistant to the dean who is in charge of the internships. “Sponsors have been very pleased with the work accomplished by our students, their professionalism, dedication, and positive attitudes.”
According to Johnson, from an internship perspective, the program has been a success. “Culturally, professionally and personally, the students have been amazed by the energy of the city, the breadth of their experiences, and how much they have learned,” says Johnson. “It’s been a dynamic first semester and I’m grateful to the students for their hard work and all of the feedback they have provided.”
SLU is known as a school with high levels of alumni support and the NYC Semester speaks to this fact. Across the board, students feel more engaged and more connected to SLU due to the influence of alumni and SLU faculty working with them side by side every day. The program is run by Dr. Peter FitzRandolph, an associate professor of economics and according to his talks with Dean Schonberg there is a good balance between the arts and finance.
This program is being offered for students both in the arts and finance departments. Following the Spring Semester of 2012, the NYC semester will also be available for the upcoming fall of 2012, the following fall of 2013 and by 2014-2015 the program will run the duration of the full school year.
This program is a lot like the London program because it is run by SLU faculty and the students feel more like they are on SLU campus just in a different location. The semester has a very personal, close and connected feel and the students are taking a specific liking to it.
Overall the semester is a hit with students and from Dean Schonberg’s point of view; he feels it was a success. He believes, “The integration of the SLU alumni and the internships and outreach into the city the students are receiving, are exactly what he was hoping for.” This successful maiden semester will hopefully entice students in the finance and arts departments to follow suit and enter the semester off campus in the thriving and culturally diverse city.