•  ()
  •  ()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story

New Immersion Program Promotes Learning Beyond the Classroom

February 6, 2007

Northwestern students have long pursued activities outside the classroom to complement their studies, such as internships, lab research and study abroad. Now, thanks to a new initiative, undergraduates can take advantage of expanded opportunities to immerse themselves in focused projects that spark the joy and passion of intellectual risk-taking.

As part of Northwestern's commitment to enhance the undergraduate experience, a priority in the Highest Order of Excellence II, the Office of the Provost has announced new funding that will encourage students to explore “immersion experiences.”

With the exception of a few broad criteria, the parameters of viable immersion experiences are bounded only by students' creativity, according to Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education. In consultation with a faculty member, students can propose intensive projects to write a play, conduct field research on an archaeological dig or work on legislative affairs in a Congressional office.

"We're encouraging students to create projects that advance their academic curriculum or pull them in new and unexpected directions and, maybe, cross disciplines as well," Braeutigam says.

The Office of the Provost will award up to $2,000 each to a few exceptional proposals. Awards will go to projects that cannot be funded through existing programs, such as undergraduate research grants. Proposals for credit-bearing projects are not eligible for funding.

Applicants can learn more by going to www.northwestern.edu/immersion. The application deadline is April 6 for projects beginning this summer. This new web site also provides the Northwestern community an immersion experience clearinghouse, with links to existing programs at each school as well as detailed guidelines on how to design and propose novel projects.

Immersion language grants available for 2008

In addition to supporting other immersion experiences, the Office of the Provost is preparing to launch a two-year pilot program beginning in the fall to help fund immersion language study. To help students learn or master foreign languages, 10 grants of up to $2,000 each will be awarded for intensive summer study at approved language centers across the country and around the world. The first projects will be funded for summer 2008.

"These grants will be very competitive," says Braeutigam. "They will deepen Northwestern's commitment to internationalization and improve students' ability to conduct research, write honors theses and compete for fellowships."

Given the limited number of initial grants, Braeutigam stresses that students must present compelling reasons to study off campus. Standards and prerequisites will be determined by a committee composed of members from the Office of the Provost, the Council on Language Instruction, the Study Abroad Office and the Office of Fellowships.

For more information about immersion experiences and immersion language grants, contact Christopher Hayden, assistant to the associate provost for undergraduate education, at urg@northwestern.edu.

Topics: People