‘High demand’ for Overseas Seminars

Feb. 3, 2012, 2:08 a.m.

Following a two-year hiatus of its summer Overseas Seminars, the Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) received over 460 applications this past weekend for its five 2012-13 programs, according to BOSP Enrollment Services Coordinator Alyssa Geiger.


The three-week seminars, which are capped at an enrollment of 15 students each, will take students to Brazil, India, the Netherlands, Tanzania and Turkey. Applications for the seminars were due at 11:59 p.m. this past Sunday, Jan. 29.


BOSP Director Robert Sinclair said the ratio of applications to particular sites is much higher this round than compared to what it has been in previous years. He credits pent-up demand for the seminars, this year’s chosen locations and leading faculty for the increase.


‘High demand’ for Overseas Seminars
Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) received over 460 applications for its 2012-13 Overseas Seminars this summer. (OLLIE KHAKWANI/The Stanford Daily)

“I think the message is clear that this is a very popular program amongst the students and there’s a high demand for it,” Sinclair said.


According to Sinclair, BOSP has already sent a funding request to the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education for eight seminars in 2013-14 and may submit one or two more for the following year.


“We wanted to provide opportunities for students complementary to the regular quarter-long programs, and so we identified locations that would do that and provide new opportunities for students,” Sinclair said.


The Istanbul seminar, titled, “City of Empires: History, Memory and Global Experience in Eastern Mediterranean,” received 155 applicants, making it the most popular choice among students. The seminar will be Stanford’s first study abroad opportunity in the Middle East.


Ali Yaycioglu, history professor and leader of the Istanbul seminar, said there is a growing interest in the Middle East on campus. Yaycioglu said he is excited to share the city with his students while exploring it from a historical and anthropological perspective.


“We are going to see how one of the most historically complicated cities of the world is functioning and operating in postmodern times of global expansion and global finance,” Yaycioglu said.


Students participating in the Istanbul trip will get a chance to showcase photographs, writings and sketches from the trip in an exhibit currently being planned for this coming fall quarter.


Yaycioglu added that since Koc University is providing some accommodations for the trip, both Stanford and Koc will gain a lot through the mutual exposure.


“It goes beyond just Overseas Seminars. For us it shows the interest of the student body towards certain geography, culture and issues,” Yaycioglu said.


Marília Librandi-Rocha, assistant professor of Brazilian literature and culture and leader of the Brazil seminar, wrote in an email to The Daily that long-term benefits apply to her class, as well.


“I believe that besides the exact number of applicants, Stanford University is looking ahead: Brazil is an important new partner and this is the right moment to firm a connection [sic],” Librandi-Rocha said. “Brazil’s growing investments in education and in technology need Stanford knowledge. Both parts have a lot to gain.”


Fifty-seven students applied to the “Rio de Janeiro: A Cultural History” seminar.


For Robert Siegel, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and leader of “Issues of Development in Northern Tanzania,” the hardest part will be selecting 15 participants from the 79 applicants for his seminar. Nevertheless, Siegel is still looking forward to leading this trip again after having done so six years ago.


“I think for a lot of the students there’s an excitement to be able to experience Africa — particularly East Africa — and the culture there,” Siegel said. “I think a lot of students are interested in the topic of development.”


Music Professor Mark Applebaum will offer “The Amsterdam Trans-Idiomatic Arts Practicum in the Netherlands.” Thomas Hansen, Sharika Thiranagama and Sangeeta Mediratta will lead students in “Minority as Cultural Form in South Asia” in New Delhi and Mumbai, India.


Respectively, 122 and 54 students applied to the seminars.


According to Sinclair, the students will be notified of final acceptance decisions on March 2. Faculty will have until then to review the applications and host interviews if they wish, but the criteria for selecting students is still up to the discretion of each individual faculty member.


Sinclair said he is very excited to be offering the program once again.


“We’ve worked hard to provide this new opportunity, and it’s terrific for us to see the response,” Sinclair said. “We would like in turn to respond to that level of support and provide increasing opportunities over the years for students.”



Ileana Najarro is the Managing Editor of News at The Stanford Daily. She previously worked as a News Desk Editor and Staff Writer.

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