Future uncertain for Stern study abroad

The Stern administration is reviewing its global study away programs. Students hope that the programs will continue after the pandemic and that the school will make up for study abroad opportunities missed due to the pandemic.


Alexandra Chan

The Stern School of Business on Gould Plaza is located at the southeast corner of Washington Square. A Stern study away program will be cancelled. (Staff Photo by Alexandra Chan)

Saurabh Kumar, Staff Writer

Robert Whitelaw, the vice dean for the undergraduate college at the Stern School of Business, discussed in a March 26 email the pandemic’s disruption of Stern’s Global Pillar study away opportunities, such as the International Business Exchange Program, the International Studies Program and short-term immersions. Although he said a review of these programs was critical and recommendations would be forthcoming in the following weeks, more than a month has passed without updates. 

“A committee of Stern faculty and administrators have begun a review of our competitors and are discussing how things like the pandemic and other global crises influence global business education,” Whitelaw wrote in the email. 

This is not the first time Stern has revised its academic programs. According to Whitelaw, Stern completed a review of the four-course Social Impact Core in 2017 that resulted in increased diversity and inclusion content for all required coursework.

“As common practice, we review all of our academic programs from time to time to ensure the highest standards of academic excellence and alignment with the latest research and developments in business,” Whitelaw wrote in an email statement to WSN. 

Whitelaw believes that the current environment calls for new approaches to teaching global business. 

“The pandemic, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, halted air travel and impacted visa processing, but it also shined a light on just how globally interconnected our world — and business — has become,” Whitelaw said in the statement. 

According to Whitelaw, the committee will share its final recommendations before the 2021-2022 school year.

“The committee was launched in April, so they are still very much in the learning and discussion phase, and there are no recommendations at this time,” Whitelaw said. “The committee has been asked to share their assessment and recommendations during the summer so that we can plan to implement any recommendations before the start of the new academic year.”

With a number of programs involving study away — such as the Barr Family International Studies Program for spring break, the International Business Exchange Program for a semester and the BS in Business and Political Economy degree program for two semesters — many students expect to study abroad during their time at Stern.

“Studying abroad is the single best thing someone can choose to do in college,” Stern junior JonPaul Lambert said. “Going abroad forces you out of your comfort zone … ISP and study abroad opportunities in general are some of the reasons many of us chose Stern and NYU.”

Due to the pandemic, this year’s juniors were unable to travel through ISP, the Stern program in which juniors immerse themselves for the week of spring break in the culture of the countries and economies they are studying. 

“The lack of a trip for ISP due to the pandemic has certainly been the most abrupt interruption,” Lambert said. “I think everyone in Stern looks forward to the ISP trip and the opportunity to understand a company and country on a more personal and cultural level.”

“While the ISP Program didn’t influence my decision to apply/enroll at Stern, it was something I was looking forward to since the day I committed,” Stern first-year Julia Denissenko added in an email to WSN. 

While the ISP web page previously boasted that 100% of Stern students have a global experience, this statistic has been removed. The page also no longer mentions the part of the program that allowed students to travel internationally.

“We did update the language recently because we felt it was disingenuous to promote 100% of students having a global experience when our global programs have been grounded for over a year due to the pandemic and as directed by government and NYU policy,” Whitelaw told WSN. 

Stern junior Lavinia Gabriele told WSN in an email that Stern’s Global Pillar heavily influenced her decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business and political economy. 

“The main reason why I decided to attend Stern, and specifically BPE, is because of the NYU Shanghai study abroad session that happens in my Sophomore year during the Spring semester,” Gabriele wrote. “I wasn’t able to do that, and so overall I feel like the main goal of BPE, which is to understand business, politics, and economics in the three major business hubs (NYC, London, Shanghai), has not been met.”

Gabriele also said the inability to go on the Shanghai trip restricts interactions between BPE students. 

“BPE students are known to be good friends with one another, and that is mainly because of the Shanghai study abroad session,” she said.  

“I am still very grateful that I was able to go to London,” Gabriele added. “Some of my favorite classes were taken there. I was able to take an architecture class and go around London to visit museums, buildings, and galleries. I loved to learn about Brexit in the city where major political decisions were being made.” 

Lambert said he was fortunate to be able to study abroad earlier in his academic career. He hopes the Stern administration finds a way to give students the international experience they expected.

“I was also able to develop more meaningful friendships that have lasted throughout my time at NYU,” Lambert said regarding his experience in London. I would encourage NYU faculty and staff to find a way to make up for part of the lost experience.”

Email Saurabh Kumar at [email protected].