For those interested in conservation sciences and ecosystems, a year of study abroad can greatly enhance education and professional opportunities. It is an often commented fact from concerned scientists throughout the world that many environmental problems are addressed at the local level, by a city, county, council or region, when they are in fact global problems. Putting this into perspective during a masters degree program or while doing an undergraduate internship can have a profound effect on their career. Wildlife and ecosystems don’t recognize local or national boundaries. A bigger world view is regarded as the solution to many current conservation issues, from migrating birds to drifting pollutants.
Both American and British students can expect to find many benefits from a year of study in another country. Both countries are experiencing growth in ‘green’ jobs and research, and have a surging conservation ethic. Yet, the approach to game management, biological sciences, ecosystem study, and environmental impacts varies between the two countries. A year spent studying with professors and students, versed in an alternative system and way of thinking, with differing conservation challenges, will serve to make students far more rounded and developed in their thinking, and thus more marketable in their chosen careers.
In addition, colleges and universities in the two countries both being English-language based, albeit with some minor differences, have a long history and established programs for direct exchange of foreign students. University of Exeter and Stirling University both have conservation programs and offer their UK students opportunities to study abroad at numerous institutions in the US, as well as accepting US students to their programs. Both schools are highly regarded and known for idyllic settings, with natural wilds to facilitate their conservation studies programs.
There are some differences in style between the two countries in terms of university study. For example in the US, students are generally expected to attend classes and follow a prepared curriculum, including reading standard texts provided to all students and they face frequent testing on those materials throughout the year. In the UK, the professors act more as facilitators, guiding students to do research on their own and to seek out the texts they require in an approach that would feel more like ‘self study’ to US students. UK students are generally graded for the entire body of their work at the end of the term, whereas US students are assessed regularly.
An excellent place to look into study abroad and student exchange programs is the Institute of International Education, which features scholarships, grants and programs by country and subject matter. Students can also inquire with their host school, to learn about opportunities for direct exchange and partnerships.
Expanding horizons, improving communication and exchange of best practices, and conserving the natural world, are all enhanced by the free flow and exchange of ideas. Be a part of that, by taking advantage of the opportunity to study abroad.