2015 was another successful year for the annual Interior Design Florence Program led by Karen Myers.
“The educational benefits associated with studying abroad involve looking beyond the classroom and engaging students to learn outside their comfort zone by applying their developing analytical skills with real world intellectual, educational, and personal challenges,” says Myers, whose first class assignment for her students was to “get lost.” She feels this initial high-impact learning experience establishes the value of the Florence Program for the design majors by preparing them to view the process of their education abroad as a creative problem solving “journey.”
“Italy becomes our classroom with its vast array of original works of art, architecture, and design serving as our textbook,” Myers continues, and learning-in-action is essential to her teaching methodology with course-related on-site field study becoming a signature part of her study abroad classes.
The final project for the interior design students reflected on the learning cycle of the education abroad process: from the decision to go abroad, preparing for departure, actually being abroad, and, finally, carrying forward the experience to inform one’s personal and professional growth.
This summer’s project was further enhanced by a program sponsored excursion to the 2015 Milan world’s fair. The Milan Expo experience became the framework for the design students’ reflection assignment by serving as a “real world” example of global citizenship – where shared actions contributed positively to building a sustainable global community – and where shared values demonstrated the larger purpose of education…that studying abroad revealed.