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Mission,Vision,Goals,& Student Learning Objectives

Discover what you can gain from studying abroad!

The mission of the Swarthmore Off-Campus Study Office is to foster student capacity for thoughtful engagement with the world beyond Swarthmore by providing access and support for high-quality educational opportunities across the globe.

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The vision of the Off-Campus Study Office is for Swarthmore students to graduate with:
1) a strong sense of social and civic responsibility;
2) intercultural knowledge, and;
3) the ability to approach situations from diverse perspectives.

The Off-Campus Study Office acts in concert with academic departments and programs, the Dean’s Office, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, Athletics, and the Provost’s Office to create an environment for holistic student development.

OCS Goals

OCS accomplishes its mission and supports the larger Swarthmore mission by focusing its work in three areas: education abroad, campus internationalization, and campus-wide risk management. OCS is committed to promoting educational equity among all Swarthmore students by creating a welcoming environment for learners of all types and supporting all students, no matter their sex, race, color, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender idereal or perceived) to an appropriate education abroad experience.

  • OCS offers a variety of international opportunities and aims to be a gateway to all international experiences.
  • OCS provides support services for students conducting research and internships abroad.

  • OCS approves high-quality education abroad opportunities and follows best practices through the following practices:
    1. OCS education abroad opportunities are reviewed by the OCS committee.
    2. Swarthmore programs have a regular schedule of evaluation.
    3. OCS staff remain abreast of national education abroad standards.
    4. OCS is a member of NAFSA, the Forum on Education Abroad, the Institute of International Education, and the Academic Working Group of the Overseas Security Council of the State Department.

Campus internationalization means connecting Swarthmore students’ on-campus studies and experiences to larger global contexts. These connections are made through intentional inclusion of international perspectives across the spectrum of Swarthmore educational and co-curricular activities. On-campus opportunities (academic and co-curricular) are complemented by students’ off-campus experiences through local community service, internships, and study abroad.

OCS supports internationalization through the following activities:
  1. OCS encourages departments to integrate multiple cultural perspectives into Swarthmore education abroad program curricula.
  2. OCS works with departments to align courses taken abroad with department academic policies and goals.
  3. OCS facilitates internships, service learning, and community engagement opportunities - especially those activities that have international components.
  4. OCS provides opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to share expertise gained through international experiences in all fields of study.
  5. OCS meets with international visitors to other departments on campus, and hosts representatives from affiliated education abroad programs. 

Interdepartmental collaboration in risk management is critical to implementing successful off-campus programs.
OCS supports risk management efforts at Swarthmore through the following activities:
  1. OCS serves as the centralized resource for risk assessment and management related to international off-campus student activities. On-campus stakeholders work closely with OCS staff to craft an appropriate plan for mitigating risks through intentional program design.
  2. OCS publishes risk management information that can be readily accessed online by students, faculty, and staff.
  3. OCS mitigates risks to student health and safety by influencing student behavior before students go off campus through comprehensive advising, pre-departure orientation, and re-entry debriefing.
  4. OCS complies with institutional, state, and national regulations that pertain to international education. 

OCS supports student development by articulating concrete and measurable learning objectives and promoting holistic student development during a student’s entire academic career at Swarthmore College.
Goal 1: Students will develop a strong sense of social and civic responsibility by:

  • Connecting and applying classroom learning to their own participation in civic life, politics, and government.
  • Demonstrating ability and commitment to work actively within local community contexts and structures to achieve a civic aim.
  • Articulating their identity in a global context and using that knowledge to act in their own community with increased global awareness.
  • Taking informed and responsible action to address ethical, social, and environmental challenges in global systems.
  • Evaluating the local and broader consequences of individual and collective interventions. 

Goal 2: Students will develop intercultural knowledge and competence by:
  • Demonstrating understanding of the complex history, values, politics, communication styles, economy, or beliefs and practices of different cultures.
  • Articulating how personal experiences have shaped students’ own cultural rules and biases.
  • Asking complex questions about other cultures and seeking out answers to these questions from multiple cultural perspectives.
  • Demonstrating a deeper understanding of their field of study by integrating life experiences from a variety of contexts.
  • Demonstrating effective oral and written communication skills in an intercultural context. 

Goal 3: Students will demonstrate their ability to evaluate and apply diverse perspectives to complex situations in the face of multiple and even conflicting positions (e.g. cultural, disciplinary, and ethical) by:
  • Acting in a supportive manner that recognizes the perspectives of another cultural group.  
  • Articulating a complex understanding of cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication and skillfully negotiating a shared understanding based on those differences.
  • Evaluating complex situations and applying innovative solutions to global challenges that are appropriate to their contexts using multiple disciplinary perspectives.
  • Interacting with peoples of other cultures in a receptive, non-judgmental manner. 

Social Responsibility
Awareness of social dynamics and subsequent active leadership in the pursuit of social justice
Civic Responsibility
Active participation in civil society that reflects an understanding of the democratic process and prioritizes justice and humanity
Global Context
An understanding of the connections between the individual, society, nation-state, and the world
Global Self-Awareness
The continuum through which students develop a mature, integrated identity with a systemic understanding of the interrelationships among the self, local and global communities, and the natural and physical world
Global Systems
The complex and overlapping worldwide systems, including natural systems (those systems associated with the natural world including biological, chemical, and physical sciences) and human systems (those systems developed by humans such as cultural, economic, political, and built), which operate in observable patterns and often are affected by or are the result of human design or disruption. These systems influence how life is lived and what options are open to whom.
Intercultural Knowledge and Competence
A set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts