BOSP offers eight new overseas seminars

Oct. 16, 2013, 3:40 a.m.

The Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) is offering eight overseas seminars for Summer 2014, including two locations in England, one in Ghana and one in Ecuador.

Each seminar provides students with a three-week intensive study abroad opportunity with a Stanford faculty member in a foreign country.

In January, BOSP asked Stanford faculty to submit proposals for future overseas seminars in countries of their choosing, said BOSP Director Ramon Saldivar. The proposals are reviewed by a committee of Stanford faculty, who make the final decision on which seminars will be offered.

According to Saldivar, the committee received more proposals this year than it could facilitate since the summer seminars program re-launched two years ago.

“We don’t tell people where they should go teach seminars. The faculty come to us with ideas,” Saldivar said. “Like Sophomore College, they come to us with an idea for a research topic that they think will benefit students’ progression through their academic curriculum.”

Sean Hanretta, an associate professor of history, has spent his summers working in Ghana for the past eight years and will be leading a seminar there this summer.     The seminar will focus on art, religion, culture and development in West Africa.

Hanretta said he is excited to see BOSP expanding programs to previously underrepresented study-abroad locations.

“This is the first official program of any kind that Stanford has ever had in West Africa,” Hanretta said. “We haven’t had a presence before and there is an untapped demand.”

Hanretta said he believes the seminar in Ghana will support the growing interest in studying abroad in Africa, especially after the announcement of a new summer quarter-long program in Cape Town.

Hanretta said the significant amount of travel that will be done in his seminar will allow students to experience Ghanaian culture and society in a fast-paced but effective way.

“We are pretty much going through all the major sites in the southern half of the country,” Hanretta said. “We will be doing a lot of meeting with people and experiential learning through hands-on activities.”

Stephen Goodspeed’16, who participated in a seminar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last summer, said the program allowed for an incredible breadth of student and experience.

“The focus of our work was on the pacification and socioeconomic development of the slums in Rio called favelas,” Goodspeed said. “We were able to not only meet with chiefs of police in charge of pacification, but we also had meals with several favela families and heard a much more personal take on the situation.”

Although some of the seminars focus on exposure to the culture of the destination country, BOSP Executive Director Irene Kennedy said the goal of the seminar program is very different than that of the quarter-long BOSP programs and involves less of an emphasis on cultural immersion than on a first glance.

“Students looking for cultural immersion and language immersion, like living with a local family, should apply to our other programs,” Kennedy said. “Our overseas seminars are focused on an academic experience with a Stanford faculty member.”

The deadline to apply to an overseas seminar is Nov. 3.

 Contact Michael Tuschman at michaeltuschman ‘at’

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