Learning, Culture Await Grad Students in Ireland

Luck of the Irish, indeed. A group of nine Merrimack College graduate students is traveling through Dublin, Cork and Galway, Ireland, this week as part of the college's first short-term study-abroad program for master's candidates.

The trip is being led by Assistant Professor of Education and Community Studies Elaine Ward, the students’ instructor in the course Higher Education Policy and Practice in Ireland.

“The internationalization of higher education is the future of the field, and having a global perspective for our students is really important,” Ward said.

Through her research on civic engagement in higher education, and as a native of Ireland, Ward has developed working relationships with several colleges and universities in her home country.

Her students will meet with officials from Dublin Institute of Technology and Technological University for Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and the National University of Ireland, Galway, where they will discuss Ireland’s higher-education funding models; community and civic engagement; and admission policies and practices. They will also visit the Centre for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, akin to Merrimack’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

In addition, Ward will present her research in Cork and Galway on civic and community engagement in higher education.

There will be time for cultural experiences as well, including what is sure to be a raucous St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Friday. In preparation, students learned basic Irish step dances and the lyrics to traditional Irish songs before departing Merrimack last Friday.

“So instead of just watching, they can participate,” Ward said.

Participants said they were excited to be part of the inaugural study-abroad experience.

“It will help provide a holistic view of higher education,” said Justin Connolly ’17, of Walpole, Massachusetts, who is studying higher education with a concentration in administration.

Watch a video of the student’s Irish step dance lesson:

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