February 5, 2015

A whale of a time

The University’s partnership with MBL is a missed opportunity to get our science majors their study abroad.

The University recently announced a new study abroad entitled “Whales: Biology, Culture, and Evolution on Nantucket Sound,” in conjunction with the Marine Biological Laboratories (MBL) in Massachusetts. The program fulfills the general biology requirement for non-science majors like the existing Neurobiology and Primates study abroad programs in Paris. Although the science-based study abroad programs are exciting, these programs are not targeted towards science majors because they rarely fulfill the major requirements. Science majors are uniquely underserved by the University’s study abroad programs because they are locked into sequences for the major, which makes it difficult to fulfill core requirements abroad. For this reason, we encourage the University to develop study abroad programs which fulfill higher level science requirements and benefit students majoring in scientific fields.

The ability to tailor study abroad programs to give major credit in technical fields already exists—as evidenced by the quarter-long Advanced Math study abroad program in Paris. Science majors, however, have no comparable programs. This is especially striking in light of the fact that it can be especially difficult for science majors to fulfill their core requirements by studying abroad. These majors often require specific sequences of courses which must be completed over the course of students’ first two or three years. Pre-med students in particular must complete four sequences (two years of chemistry, one year of physics, and one to two years of biology). Without study abroad programs which fulfill degree requirements, studying abroad is simply not a feasible possibility for many science majors.

The Whales program recently announced by the study abroad office is an exciting and valuable opportunity for students, but we call on the University to also make these kinds of opportunities available to all students. The University’s partnership with the MBL began over a year ago. This partnership is an opportunity to provide serious study abroad programs for science majors, and we encourage the University to take advantage of it.

—The Maroon Editorial Board