Gonzaga Study Abroad Undergraduate Participation Ranked No. 11 in U.S.

Beginning in 1963 in Florence, Gonzaga's study abroad opportunities have expanded to include over 20 programs in more than 40 countries.

A fisherman in Cambodia crouches on the end of his boat
Photo taken by Tori Shaw on a Study Abroad trip to Cambodia
February 06, 2024
Center for Global Engagement

Gonzaga University has established itself as a prominent presence in Study Abroad national rankings, earning recognition as the 11th-best undergraduate-participation-institution in the 2023 edition of the Institute of International Education Open Doors annual report, with a 43.3% participation rate amongst doctoral universities in 2021-2022. This achievement resonates with one of several Gonzaga core commitments to animate academic excellence across the institution which includes offering student experiences to deepen understanding of cultures and global issues.

Beginning humbly in 1963 in Florence, Gonzaga's study abroad opportunities have expanded to now include over 20 sponsored programs in more than 40 countries. There are also various opportunities to participate in short-term faculty-led programs abroad alongside undergraduate, graduate, and law programs in Florence.

“Gonzaga University students value the diversity programs the Study Abroad Office offers,” said Stashia Kaiel, assistant director of GU study abroad. “We regularly evaluate programs to ensure they meet our students’ academic needs and collaborate with GU departments, including faculty, to continue to expand our quality study abroad programming.”

Students who engage in these programs benefit from enhanced cultural and language competencies, enriched academic experiential learning, improved career prospects, personal growth, and resilience.

Mackenzie Pavlik, senior study abroad advisor, comments that "the cultural competencies mentioned above are intricately tied to the integrative essence of a Jesuit education at Gonzaga. Our students evolve into individuals dedicated to serving others, a transformation that hinges on the foundation of self-awareness. Immersing themselves in another culture provides students with a profound experience, a catalyst for developing both 'self' and 'other' awareness—two fundamental pillars aligned with the new Strategic Plan. This immersive encounter sparks a realization that can inspire meaningful perspectives and, subsequently, purposeful actions."

Most students studying abroad participate in the revered Gonzaga-in-Florence Program. Jason Houston, dean of the Gonzaga-in-Florence (GIF) Program, highlights that GIF has been Gonzaga’s flagship global gateway for 60 years, hosting over 10,000 Zags in Florence, Italy, for a summer, semester, or year-long program of study. Gonzaga in Florence prides itself on providing quality immersive cultural learning and exchange; “our students bring the strong Gonzaga community with them to Florence, but they also become temporary residents of the ‘cradle of the Renaissance’."  Houston adds that “We know that the ‘gonzaghini’ who return to campus after their time in Florence bring with them broader perspectives of the global community, but they are also energized by time in Florence and ready to enrichen their own communities on campus at home.”

The Zakheim Center for Global Engagement (CGE), which administratively houses the Study Abroad Office (along with International Student and Scholar Services and the English Language Center) is situated to support ideas created by faculty and staff to generate opportunities that then prepare students to respond to these challenges in a mature, discerning, and accountable way.

“The CGE is the hub for internationalization efforts on campus using faculty/staff expertise to address problems for a complex, uncertain, and unequal world,” says Christina Isabelli, associate provost for global engagement. “This is at the heart of Gonzaga’s Mission statement, and is carried out by transformative study abroad opportunities, among other initiatives."

Moira Rogers, director of study abroad, comments that the Study Abroad team is dedicated to enhancing access to opportunities for all Zags, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, financial standing, or field of study. To achieve this objective, she states that “we are continuing to implement targeted advising sessions.” To ensure broad outreach, the Study Abroad team actively participates in campus-wide events, including GEL, orientations, Fall Family Weekend, and the annual study abroad fair.

“We extend our appreciation for the enthusiastic support received from campus departments, advisors, and student support personnel. Together, we look forward to continuing to foster and grow an enriching study abroad experience for all Zags, Rogers says.

As stated in one of Gonzaga’s 2023 Strategic Commitments, study abroad opportunities offer a “continued exposure to and engagement with diverse cultures and worldviews across the curriculum” and “will foster in our students a commitment to social justice, diversity, intercultural competence and global engagement.”

A message to our future Global Zags, education at Gonzaga has no boundaries or borders and it may take you to the edge of the earth before you find your potential. Studying abroad will unfold a world of possibilities as you learn to embrace diversity and build lasting connections with other global-minded future leaders.

No matter what you are pursuing, Gonzaga has a study abroad program designed to challenge your perspective and bring you to a better understanding of your ever-connecting world. As you will discover, engagement with other cultures will often make you discover more about yourself.

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