The opportunity to spend a semester of college taking classes in a foreign country, visiting new places and forming strong relationships with other students to many seems too good to pass up, and Notre Dame students are taking advantage of study abroad opportunities at higher rates than ever before. According to the Open Doors report released by the Institute of International Education (IIE), Notre Dame ranks fifth nationwide in percentage of undergraduate students participating in study abroad programs among U.S. doctoral and research institutions. The story focused on the 2011 to 2012 academic year. The United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China ranked as the top five destinations for American students, and the IIE reported a steady increase in students pursuing academic semesters in foreign countries over the past decade. According to the report, 65.9 percent of Notre Dame students participate in study abroad, a 6.2 percent increase from 2012. Last year, the University ranked ninth in the survey. The Notre Dame International website states that the mission of International Studies is “to enable international learning and research experiences that enhance the academic, intercultural and spiritual formation of our students; enrich their global and cultural awareness and help to develop engaged citizens in our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.” Junior Kate Friedli said she chose to study abroad in the United Kingdom during the past summer for a variety of reasons. “I think more and more people are going abroad for two reasons,” she said. “First, it’s incredibly fun. Second, you have the opportunity to learn things you wouldn’t in a normal, domestic class.” Friedli said her favorite part of the experience was forming friendships with the other Notre Dame students in her program. “What I found most rewarding about studying abroad was the people,” Friedli said. “The people from Notre Dame who I went abroad to London with will be my lifelong friends, and my interactions with true Londoners were very rewarding and fun.” Junior Sara Reyes also said studying abroad offered an opportunity to branch out and meet Notre Dame students she has yet to interact with on campus. “Studying abroad is the perfect medium to get out of your comfort zone,” Reyes said. “It was a great experience for me because I met a lot of Notre Dame students that I may never have had the pleasure of being friends with had I not met them during my time abroad.” Junior Katharine Maheras said she valued the opportunity to experience new cultures with other Notre Dame students who share a similar background to hers. “I not only got to have a new cultural experience but also was able to strengthen friendships with Notre Dame students through doing so,” Maheras said. Junior Kevin McMannis said by offering study abroad programs over the summer, Notre Dame International allows even more students to take advantage of the opportunity to study in a foreign country. “The summer abroad let me experience new and different parts of my Notre Dame and college career without missing a semester on this amazing campus,” he said. “I got to branch out of my dorm, live with six guys I didn’t know before and meet other amazing people.” Living in a metropolitan city and absorbing the culture were highlights of the summer program, McMannis said. “London’s city life and culture was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far, and I am super blessed to have been able to spend it with my college friends, new and old,” he said. Notre Dame boasts more than 40 international study programs in more than 20 nations, including Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Russia, Senegal, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Uganda and the U.K., along with a domestic program in Washington, D.C. Contact Meg Handelman at [email protected]
USC’s energy contract with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power expires at the end of the year, and both the university and DWP are looking for ways to produce more sustainable energy.USC has been under contract with DWP for 10 years, according to Matthew Oden, manager of the USC Sustainability Program, and that contract has prevented the school from implementing more sustainable practices.Once the contract is up, however, the school and DWP will likely work out a memorandum of understanding — a non-legally binding list of agreements outlining future projects and goals. DWP has been working on such agreements with many of its larger customers.“I think that’s a reflection of how rapidly the landscape in the energy climate world is evolving right now that DWP doesn’t want to take the risk of getting locked into 10-year contracts,” Oden said.The switch from contracts to MOUs would also allow USC to change the way it approaches energy consumption. Under its 10-year contract, USC has been required to get all of its energy from DWP and been unable to produce its own energy.“There’s been a lot of inquiries about why USC doesn’t have solar [power] on campus, and that’s the answer,” Oden said. “We haven’t been contractually been allowed to, and the bottom line of that is that it could be a good thing.”Oden said, however, that USC won’t implement the DWP’s Solar Incentive Program once the MOU is drafted. The program asks customers like USC to purchase solar panels to power their own property. Any energy not used by the customer flows back to the city’s power grid and the customer receives a rebate and federal tax credits. Oden said such a program does not fit USC’s needs.“We have energy efficiency projects that are cheaper and will reduce greenhouse gases more quickly,” Oden said. “Until we have all those done, it doesn’t make financial sense [to go solar] when we could be building large wind farms out in the desert.”Mark Gangi, an expert on sustainable design, said by focusing on energy efficient projects, USC can earn DWP rebates, which are offered for more than just use of solar panels, and can use the transition as a learning experience.“It’s a great opportunity to actually have students in a building that teaches them about what they are studying that has value beyond economic analysis,” he said.A Sept. 15 executive order signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requires a statewide, 33 percent increase in renewable energy use by 2020. Oden said the order could be one reason why DWP plans to change the way it approaches its contracts.DWP hopes to use 20 percent renewable energy by 2010 and 40 percent by 2020, said DWP spokeswoman Carol Tucker. Under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which provides regulations and benchmarks for the statewide switch to renewable energy, DWP would use hydropower, wind power, biomass energy and geothermal energy.To reach these benchmarks, DWP recently opened the largest municipally-owned wind farm in the country, located in Utah. Wind farms generate energy through turbines with spinning blades creating electricity and transmitting the power back to LA. DWP is also agreeing to other projects and transmission lines to transport power from places farther than LA, Tucker said.Although DWP is USC’s only source of energy, their new initiatives will not change the total amount of energy USC receives, Oden said.