Best Practices for Short-Term Study Abroad in Music

Joseph E. Jones, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs have soared in popularity in recent years, now accounting for roughly two-thirds of all study abroad experiences for students at American colleges and universities (Kaplan, 2013). Long overshadowed by semester or full-year programs, these shorter courses are sometimes dismissed as "trips" or "tours" rather than viewed as opportunities for rigorous study and potentially life-changing experiences. Perhaps consequently, research concerning best practices for short-term programs is limited and tends to apply the same standards as for longer programs despite the compressed format. Guidelines published by The Forum on Education Abroad and NAFSA: Association of International Educators are often more general than practical, and scholarship specific to short-term programs in music is essentially non-existent.

To begin to address this gap, this poster highlights established best practices and suggests others that are perhaps unique to developing faculty-led programs in our discipline. Drawing upon five years of experience leading music students in Vienna, Austria, I shed light on some of the challenges of planning a dynamic program that combines the usual excursions and live performances with seminar discussions, archival studies, and even private lessons, all in a few short weeks. The poster covers marketing strategies, improving student preparedness, and developing clear content goals while also commenting on rigor and identifying ways to encourage student reflection upon return. I argue that creating a successful, academically sound short-term program requires as much planning as for longer forms of study abroad -- it is a year-round process.