KIIS program for study abroad ready for this summer, accepting applications for 2015

TanzaniaStudyAbroad_ending02-17-14Several Marshall faculty members will be heading out all over the globe this summer—to Austria, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Tanzania, for example–to teach Marshall and Kentucky students through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) program.

Marshall has been participating in KIIS (pronounced “keys”) for only two years, but faculty response to the program has been enthusiastic, says Ryan Warner, Coordinator of Study Abroad and Global Engagement and Marshall’s KIIS campus representative.

“It’s a phenomenal program but a lot of our faculty don’t really know about it,” he says. “The program is truly amazing. We’re excited about it.” Prior to joining the consortium, faculty-led programs were conducted in-house, he explains, with the majority of the planning and logistics falling on faculty members. “If they had a location and course in mind they had to basically build the entire program from the ground up. Those logistics took a lot of work. Now through the KIIS program, the logistics are taken care of, faculty teach their own courses, and students get academic credit from Western Kentucky University.”

Each program has its own program director, usually someone who has been affiliated with the program for a number of years, who will assist faculty in putting their courses together as well as offering aid in other areas, Warner says.

Faculty interested in teaching during summer 2015 should contact Warner with two proposals of courses they want to teach. He will provide them with an online application with which they can submit the proposal with accompanying documents. The deadline for submitting proposals is Tuesday, April 1. He can be reached by phone at ext. 6-2379 and at by e-mail at

Faculty selected teach a four-week course and receive a stipend, free airfare, food and lodging while abroad. Instructors can take along spouses or children but all of their other expenses, such as transportation and food, must be paid by the participating faculty.

According to the KIIS website, 28 programs are offered in a variety of disciplines. Faculty can choose a location and propose a course they want to teach, and selection is competitive. Some sites are geared toward specific disciplines, according to Warner. “Italy is more focused on art; Ecuador is more geared toward biology because of the Galapagos Islands. The academic disciplines are shifted around with the programs, however. “

The courses offered for summer 2014 include biology, political science, communications, art, music, Spanish and health professions. The latter will be taught in Tanzania by Dr. Monika Sawhney. Two faculty members who participated last summer will again be going abroad in June. Music professor Mark Zanter will be teaching in Austria for the second straight summer and Dr. Shawn Schulenberg, who taught a political science course last year in Argentina, will head to Spain. Dr. Suzanne Strait will teach in Ecuador, Christine Ingersoll and Mary Grassell will teach in Italy and Dr. Stephen Underhill will be in Germany.

“They go all over the world, you name it and we’ve got someone going to almost every continent,” says Warner. “This program is also good for our Marshall American students. INTO has been a big presence in the internationalization of the Marshall campus. Through it we bring students here but in West Virginia we also need to expand the options for our students and faculty to study outside the United States. This is an initiative of the Study Abroad office not only to bring international students here but to increase the options for our students and our faculty as well. This is a big initiative for our office, a large step and we think it will become a really big program for Marshall.”

Warner has garnered some encouraging insights from participating faculty and students. “A faculty member said it refreshed him after teaching abroad and when he came back the experience gave him a renewed excitement to teach.” And, he points out, participants also have an opportunity to conduct research as well. In addition, “Last year our faculty who taught abroad recruited 16 Marshall students to study abroad. For summer 2014 we have 29 Marshall students studying abroad in the KIIS program.”

“The feedback we’re getting from KIIS about our faculty’s teaching has been exceptional,” he says. “They’ve been really pleased with the quality of our teaching. There can be difficulty with having 30 students in another country–not everyone is cut out to teach abroad–so it’s been very gratifying to hear that our faculty members have had a great rapport with the KIIS program. All courses are taught in English with the exception of language courses. French, Spanish, German, it doesn’t matter what country it is. The program director in each location can speak the native language.”


Graphic: A promotion for this year’s KIIS program in Tanzania, which will be taught by Dr. Monika Sawrey. Eleven students from Marshall are expected to participate.