In 2014, FY@broad—DePaul’s first-year study abroad program which includes a focal point seminar and a one-week, international excursion—received an IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education. There’s a good reason why.
“Only a few institutions are doing anything like this,” says Nobi Hayashi, director of the Study Abroad Program. “We’re giving our students an early taste of international study, and our program is faculty-led: Both these qualities are very unusual.  In fact, the program is particular to DePaul because two of the university’s strengths—faculty-driven programming and a robust first-year liberal studies curriculum—make FY@broad both academically rigorous and available to a large part of the freshman class.” 

FY@board has been proven to be a positive driver of academic performance. Participating students have higher GPAs and higher graduation rates.  Also, 84 percent of those in the cohorts from the first five years (2009-10 through 2013-14) studied abroad at least one more time before graduation; they were also twice as likely to have learned a foreign language.  “All these successes are perfectly aligned with the goals and values of both DePaul and the Institute of International Education,” says Hayashi.
This spring, two new classes were added to the FY@broad roster: “Chocolate, Coffee, and Gold: Ethical Sourcing in a Global Market,” taught by Christie Klimas, an assistant professor in environmental science and studies, and “St. Francis of Assisi's Pilgrimage of Peace,” taught by Ken Butigan, an adjunct professor in peace, justice and conflict studies.

“FY@broad classes are developed by the faculty, on their own, which shows both their devotion to our students and their appreciation of the impact of a study abroad experience on a student’s academic and personal growth,” says Hayashi. 
Fair Trade and Poverty Alleviation
In Klimas’s class, students will trace commodity products back to their sources, learning how production and trade models affect the economic and social realities of workers. 

“Our theme is poverty alleviation in a global market,” she says.

“How should we, as consumers and global citizens, act? How do we make life better for the truly poor? Some companies have a code of conduct that includes fair labor practices and environmental sustainability; others don’t, of course. If we don’t know what a company does, we are, in effect, supporting its practices, good or bad.  Fair trade, one of the models we explore in class, is a certified process to ensure the payment of fair wages; it reflects a desire for more ethical principles in global sourcing, as well as a growing concern about the conditions under which commodities are produced.”

The class will travel to Peru. Through a partnership with Instituto Bartolome de las Casas in Lima, the students will explore the historical, social, political and environmental realities associated with mining on indigenous lands. With Manos Amigas, the supplier to Ten Thousand Villages, they’ll visit artisan workshops in Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve, to see how fair-trade products—ceramics, jewelry, painted glass, weaving and carved gourds—are made.  “Peru will be a hands-on, eyes-open look at the principles we’ll be studying in the class,” says Klimas.     

A Journey of Meaning

Butigan’s course is a pilgrimage, which he defines as a meaningful journey to a significant destination.  “This class, including a trip to Assisi, is an opportunity for the students to follow in the footsteps of Francis as a way of reflecting on their own pilgrimages here at DePaul,” he says. “When Francis reached a turning point in his life, he jumped in the direction of an unknown, new way of being; his life and work illustrate a conversion to a life of freedom, of voluntary poverty, and of relationship building. He ‘got’ the Christian value of peace-making. As part of this class, I want students to be inspired by Francis to ask the important questions: Who am I? Where am I going? What will I build my life on?”

The trip to Assisi will begin at the castle overlooking the town. “The structure of the town reflected society itself, with the aristocrats at the top, new wealth at the next level, then the middle class, with peasants at the bottom. Outside the town were remnants of feudal serfs—people who ‘didn’t count’ in that time and place,” says Butigan. The class will also visit the San Giovanni Bridge over the Tiber River near Perugia, which is the site of the battlefield where Francis had the life-changing experience that started him on his spiritual journey.  Other sites include the San Damiano Church, the bishop's residence, the Basilica of St. Clare and the Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy. For most stops, students will prepare and present lectures.

A Unique Value

Each FY@abroad class also includes a staff member who prepares the students for a successful trip by learning and sharing strategies for health and safety abroad, foreign currency and travel budgets, diversity in an international context, group dynamics and responsibilities, education and career planning, travel strategies and skills, and being an American abroad.

“Study abroad is something that we do really well at DePaul,” concludes Hayashi. “I’ve known of students who have actually chosen DePaul over other universities because of our programs, including and even especially FY@abroad.”