Two new study abroad programs give students majoring in economics or English the chance to focus exclusively on their chosen disciplines.
Beginning last year, economics majors can spend a semester or a year abroad at the Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy, and starting next fall, junior English majors will be able to study English literature in a yearlong program at Balliol College at Oxford University, said Karyn Jones, director of study abroad at the Center for International and Professional Experience. The programs, which are the only major-specific study abroad programs Yale offers, allow students to explore courses within their field beyond the ones offered at Yale.
“The global economy matters a lot more than it used to, and the European currency is kind of in crisis right now,” Anthony Smith, director of undergraduate studies for the Economics Department, said. “So I think it’s very valuable for students to get other perspectives by studying abroad.”
Both programs began after departments approached the study abroad office, Jones said. While Yale is not making a conscious effort to provide major-specific programs, she and Dean of International and Professional Experience Jane Edwards said they are receptive to proposals for new options. Having the full support of an academic department is important for a study abroad program’s success, Jones added.
The new programs are not the only way for English and economics majors to earn credits toward their majors abroad. For example, economics majors have studied at the London School of Economics, at Cambridge and Oxford, and in Spain in the past, Smith said, but having a program at Bocconi in place “helps students to find a good place to go.”
Bocconi, a private university in Italy that specializes in economics, management and business, is a top institution for students in these fields, Smith said. Yale began an exchange program with Bocconi last fall, when three graduate students from the university came to New Haven for the academic year. Yale, in turn, can send undergraduates majoring in economics to Bocconi for either a term or a full year, but only one student participated in the program last spring. While two graduate students from Bocconi are studying at Yale for the current academic year, the program was put on hold this semester for Yale students for “administrative reasons,” Jones said. Undergraduates will be able to go to Bocconi again in the spring, she said.
Jones said Yale students can study at Bocconi without any knowledge of Italian since the school offers many courses in English. Smith added that the school offers some economics courses related to Europe that are not found at Yale.
“I encourage students to take courses [at Bocconi] that wouldn’t be offered here — things like the history of the Italian economy or the policy of the European Union,” he said.
Seinne Fleming ’12, the only student to take part in the program so far, said she took classes in monetary economics, financial economics, European economic policy, economic history and financial contracts. While she said taking five economics classes at once was “difficult,” she added that she felt “very focused” on her major and gained a deeper understanding of economics.
The students from Bocconi that come to Yale are placed in first-year economics graduate courses, said Truman Bewley, director of graduate studies for the Economics Department.
Giovanni Compiani, one of the two students from Bocconi at Yale this year, said he was drawn to Yale for its “outstanding faculty and academic environment.” As a second-year student in a master’s program at Bocconi, Compiani said he is using his time at Yale to help decide whether to pursue a Ph.D.
“So far, the experience has been very good: the workload is quite heavy, but the courses are interesting and the atmosphere is overall friendly,” Compiani wrote in an email. “Living in New Haven is not as bad as many people told me.”
While the Bocconi exchange program is in its second year, the program at Balliol College is set to launch next fall. Balliol, which has the largest English department in the United Kingdom and is well known for the study of medieval literature, will accept three to five English majors entering their junior year. Unlike the Bocconi program, students commit to studying there for their entire junior year, and no students from Balliol will study at Yale.
John Rogers, director of undergraduate studies for the English Department, called the Balliol program an “extraordinary opportunity” for English majors. He said the school places a greater emphasis on historical breadth in its English literature courses than Yale does. Yale students at Balliol will also get to work closely with faculty in Oxford’s tutorial system, in which students are taught individually or in small groups by an instructor.
“The students who are selected will be able to live in the center of Balliol College itself and participate in the full life of college activity,” Rogers said.
The deadline to apply for a spring term abroad was Oct. 15.