Celebrate Worldwide Engagement

The Colby Libraries celebrated worldwide engagement in conjunction with the Global Engagement in the Liberal Arts conference that was held on campus September 14-16, 2018. This exhibit emphasized the conference theme of supporting and sustaining global learning. It highlighted the work and commitment of the offices, people, programs, and students who make international learning and engagement possible and successful at Colby today.


Off Campus Study

The Office of Off-Campus Study (OCS) is committed to making a substantive off-campus study opportunity available to every eligible student. An understanding of cultures that differ from one’s own is an essential component of global learning at Colby. The opportunity to study off campus fosters a shared experience between Colby students and members of their host communities, which in turn provides deep and enriching connections in their personal, academic, and professional lives. OCS ensures that students participate in academically rigorous programs and are provided with rich intercultural experiences through foreign language learning, connected learning experiences off-campus to their program of study at Colby, and meaningful engagement in distinct cultures (Off-Campus Study, Mission & Principles).

“La Vie Tandroy (Live of the Antandroy)”
Photographed by James Lucas ’15 during his 2014 off campus study in Madagascar.

“Feisty Flamenco”
Photographed by Lindley Wells ’13 in 2010 while studying in Seville, Spain.

“Yellow in Ifotaka”
Captured by Jennifer Gemmell ’12 during her 2011 off campus study in Madagascar.

Colby students have been engaging in global scholarship since the early 20th century. As early as 1931, students were participating in international exchange programs through the Institute of International Education, which was established in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I to help foster lasting peace through international educational exchange. Although students had always been permitted to study abroad, their options were fairly limited, as Colby had few approved or sponsored programs to offer. By 1966, students had the option to enroll in the Junior Year in France Program, administered by Sweet Briar College, or independent study abroad programs facilitated by other higher education institutions in the United States. Four years later, the first Colby sponsored study abroad program, “Colby in Caen,” was created as a junior-year abroad program. By 1975, Colby students had visited almost every continent, pursuing studies in England, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Turkey, Israel, Colombia, Austria, Scotland, Mexico, Ecuador, New Zealand, Greece, Ireland, Wales, and Spain.

The College’s global footprint became even larger in 1984, when three associated foreign-language programs in Cuernavaca, Kyoto, and Sri Lanka were formally approved as Colby programs. By 1985, a wide variety of off-campus study opportunities were available to students: January programs abroad, independent exchange programs, foreign language programs, freshman semester abroad, and junior semester abroad programs. Today, Colby sponsors three study abroad programs in Dijon, Salamanca, and St. Petersburg, and facilitates approximately 180 affiliated programs through the Off-campus Study Office.

Colby students are driven and deeply engaged in global work. Beyond international programs sponsored by the College, many students have received prestigious fellowships or grants to carry out humanitarian efforts around the globe.


The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship was initiated in 1968 by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, a charitable trust established by Jeannette Watson in 1961 to honor her late husband, Thomas J. Watson. Unlike many other postgraduate grants, the Watson Fellowship is not intended to be used for extended periods of formal study at foreign universities. Instead, it encourages winning fellows to explore creative, non-academic projects of interest in various countries of their choice.

“How childbirth is experienced varies around the world based on factors including proximity to hospitals, quality of care, choice of birthing location and more. There is another level of stress added to this event for groups that are experiencing cultural, social, political or physical change. My particular interest is in how the experience of birth—from the mothers’ and midwives’ perspective—is altered for people living at the crossroads of two or more belief systems that have been historically excluded politically, socially and economically. Both immigrant and indigenous communities, as well as economic and racial minority groups, fit the criteria for my project.”

– Parwana Mohammad, 2016 Watson Fellow

The first Colby students to receive the Watson Fellowship in 1971 were Frank Apantaku, who traveled to England, Scotland, and Ireland to study health institutions in those countries; and Nathan Woodruff, who traveled through Europe and the USSR to study National Park systems (pictured below).

Colby’s first Watson Fellowship recipients, Frank Apantake & Nathan Woodruff, 1971.

Parwana Mohammad ’16 (Left) Watson Fellowship
Benard Kibet ’18 (Center) Davis Project for Peace
Kumba Seddu ’17 (Right) Davis Project for Peace

Colby students have won at least one Watson Fellowship almost every year since 1971, totaling sixty-four Watson scholars to date.


Davis Projects for Peace

Davis Projects for Peace was established in 2007 by Katherine W. Davis to celebrate her 100th birthday. Her objective was to help students develop “a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war” by committing $1 million to fund one hundred Projects for Peace. Each year, select undergraduates from American colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program are awarded $10,000 to design grassroots projects geared toward building peace between different nations.

At least one Colby student has received a Davis Projects for Peace award every year since 2007.

“The project centered in Dibutibu, Chisuma, and Jembwe in the Hwange District. This was home to people of the Nambya Tribe, one of th oldest tribes in Zimbabwe. The area is impoverished and without much infrastructure. In these areas, there are three pre-schools of 30-40 students each that form the first phase of childrens’ education in the regions. These schools have hardly any facilities, and people who live in these regions generally live off the land and have the bare minimum. Most people in this community run their own subsistence farms and children are expected to help with the farm work. Consequently, children do not get as much time to play. Play can encourage children to finish school and thus leads to higher employability.”

– Kieran Dunn, 2018 Davis Fellow


Oak Fellowship

While propelling students to engage across the globe is a key component of Colby’s educational philosophy, it is also crucial that global issues be recognized and addressed locally.

Colby’s Oak Institute for Human Rights was established in 1997 by a generous grant from the Oak Foundation. Each year, it hosts an Oak Human Rights Fellow to teach and conduct research while residing at Colby College. The Institute organizes lectures and other events centered around the fellow’s area of expertise.

The purpose of the fellowship is to offer an opportunity for one prominent practitioner in international human rights to take a sabbatical leave from front-line work to spend the fall semester (September-December) in residence at Colby. This provides the Fellow time for respite, reflection, research, and writing. While all human rights practitioners are eligible, we especially encourage applications from those who are currently or were recently involved in “on-the-ground” work at some level of personal risk. Following the period of the fellowship, the fellow is expected to return home to continue her/his human rights work (Oak Institute for Human Rights, Mission Statement).

This year’s Oak Fellow for Human Rights is Bassam Khabieh, a freelance Syrian photojournalist. His beautiful but searing work bridges Oak’s 2017 theme, “Film, Photography, and Human Rights,” and its 2018 theme, “War and Human Rights” (2018 Oak Fellow: Bassam Khabieh).

Engaging locally with unique perspectives and diverse cultures is paramount. Colby further recognizes this with dedication to its international student population.


International Students

The International Students Program at Colby dates back to the 1900s and began as an exchange program with students coming to Colby from primarily European and Eastern-European countries, such as Germany, Czechoslovakia, and France.

Colby has now hosted students from over 60 countries. Its 2018 class has the largest international student population in the College’s history.

Engaging with peers from around the world enhances understanding of global issues. Furthermore, lively classroom and dinnertime discussions provide learning opportunities through immersion into other cultures (Colby Diversity, Equity & Inclusion).

Through these multicultural interactions, paired with worldwide travel and globally conscious curriculum and programming, Colby students develop a greater understanding of the world and undergo significant personal and scholarly growth.

Please visit Miller Library to learn more about global learning and engagement at Colby.


Works Cited

2018 Oak Fellow: Bassam Khabieh. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.colby.edu/oakinstitute/2017/11/27/2018-human-rights-fellow-bassam-khabieh/

Colby Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.colby.edu/diversity/

Oak Institute for Human Rights, Mission Statement, About. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.colby.edu/oakinstitute/about/

Off-Campus Study, Mission & Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.colby.edu/offcampus/about-us/