Inside Higher Ed, May 2023
In a typical, pre-pandemic year, nearly 350,000 students at American universities set out on planes, trains, automobiles and the occasional ship to study abroad. And while most institutions haven’t yet returned to their 2019 enrollment levels, 83 percent expected study abroad enrollment to grow in the current academic year. It’s clear study abroad has become a major part of the college experience.
But a common challenge looms around study abroad programs: an ethical quagmire around issues of cultural immersion and cultural appropriation. I explored my own experience leading a study abroad program in my recent book, Stealing My Religion: Not Just Any Cultural Appropriation (Harvard University Press), because I think study abroad can tell us something about the ways in which higher education continues to reinforce forms of systemic injustice, despite our good intentions.