According to a 1968-1969 brochure, “A year of study in a foreign country, confronting the student with new combinations of old ideas and opening his intellect to the possibilities for the development of new ideas, is an invaluable adjunct to any college program. This is particularly true for Davidson, which has as its goal the development of ‘disciplined and creative minds,’ minds which ‘make relevant and valid judgements,’ which ‘discriminate among values,’ and which communicate freely with others in the realm of ideas. Such study goes far toward making understanding out of prejudice, intellectual sophistication out of intellectual provincialism, and mature insights and habits of thought out of uncritical and adolescent minds. It therefore contributes in the most profound way to a truly liberal arts education.”
On this basis, faculty encouraged students to undertake the Junior Year Abroad program, wherein Davidson students would spend 10-11 eleven months abroad in Germany or France, taking classes as if they were regular students in a foreign university, to achieve maximum cultural immersion.
In France, students studied at the Universite dé Montpellier, one of the oldest and most eminent European universities, dating back to 1221. In Germany students took courses at Marburger Universität, an institute of learning that emerged during the Reformation (1527) as the first Protestant university in the world!
Davidson’s own Bill Giduz ’74 recounted the experiences of his Junior Year Abroad program in France in a spring 1995 Davidson Journal article. Giduz explained that from the time students arrived in Montpellier with the first challenge of finding an apartment, “during the JYA, the journey was always as important as the destination, whether it was just around the corner or to a far corner of the continent. Every new sight in the land was a discovery, and most conversations with friends concerned the new park, restaurant, bakery, bar, museum, or tourist attraction we had just found.” Giduz continues “The reward of JYA is the tremendous confidence gained as students learn to function at increasingly sophisticated levels in a foreign land.”
The JYA program to France has changed in recent years, moving from Montpellier to Tours beginning in the 1994-1995 academic year as students began to opt for only a semester abroad, and the Montpellier program could not serve this need. The Junior Year Abroad program in Germany has also changed sites and now sends students to Würzburg.
With its central place in the liberal arts tradition, Davidson now sponsors wide range of study abroad programs in its history, ranging geographically from Europe to the Indian sub-continent to Africa to South America. The current study abroad program for Davidson students is administered through the Dean Rusk International Studies Program.
Giduz, Bill. “Thirty Years of JYA France.” Davidson Journal. 1995. Junior Year Abroad Davidsoniana file. Davidson College Archives, Davidson, NC.
Author: Jim Harris
Date: 23 January 2012
Cite as: Harris, Jim. “Junior Year Abroad” Davidson Encyclopedia. 23 January 2012. <http://libraries.davidson.edu/archives/encyclopedia/junior-year-abroad/>