After a large organizing effort led by students, faculty and alumni, TerraDotta, the computer program used to apply for studying abroad, was restored for the previously closed Buenos Aires program. However, despite the initiative, no new applications have been made.
The initiative began when Professor of Political Science Karen Kampwirth, an alum of the Barcelona study abroad program, asked the Knox community to petition for reopening TerraDotta for Buenos Aires after it had been shut down. She also asked to petition for Knox’s involvement in Barcelona by rehiring Grace Moran ‘14 as the director of the Knox Barcelona program. After 771 signatures and 19 students expressing interest in the Buenos Aires program, both concessions were made.
“It was really like an amazing outpouring of love,” Kampwirth said of the initiative. “It was pretty stunning.”
According to Dean Laura Behling, the Buenos Aires program was originally shut down due to a lack of enrollment. Only three students applied by the Feb. 1 deadline, which meant that the program would not receive enough funding to run.
“For the Knox programs we look carefully to see if in fact they have enough student enrollment to be able to pay for themselves,” said Behling. “Three students in Buenos Aires was not going to allow that program to break even. It was going to be about a $30,000 deficit to run the program with three students.”
Though TerraDotta was reopened for Buenos Aires with a new deadline set for March 31, none of the 16 students who added their names to the enrollment list actually applied for the program.
“The three people who had originally applied have applied. There have been no others,” Behling said.
Kampwirth said that one reason for the lack of enrollment was that some students who signed the sheet did not have adequate prerequisites for the program. However, she mainly blames it on what she sees as lack of advertising for Knox run programs.
“I don’t think this would have happened had we been recruiting all year long,” Kampwirth said. Concerned about the future of Knox-run study abroad programs, she believes they should “be promoted better through the website, promoted better through study abroad fairs, and other events on campus.”
Kampwirth believes that the Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Besançon programs stand apart from other study abroad opportunities because she sees them as an extension of the Knox campus.
“I know students can study abroad with other programs but it’s very different when it is as rigorous as our programs are and run by Knox people,” said Kampwirth.
The program in Besançon remains suspended due to lack of enrollment and funds. Only four students applied to that program by the Feb. 1 deadline.
According to Behling, the lack of enrollment in Knox’s study abroad programs has less to do with lack of advertising than with how appealing other programs have become for students. She suggested the recent innovations in what other programs include, such as internships and laboratory research, are what make these programs competitive next to what Knox has to offer.
“A lot of these third-party providers are able to offer experiential learning components,” Behling said. “I hope there is an initiative to really think about the Knox programs and how they can be attractive to students.”
Regardless of why enrollment is low, Kampwirth remains optimistic that the support from the Knox community has raised awareness and enthusiasm for Knox programs in the future.
“There’s enough energy built up around Buenos Aires, there’s all these people for next year that I think we’ll have a good class next year. I’m hopeful,” Kampwirth said.