As any student knows, Elon University prides itself on having a large and well-attended study abroad program, with 70 percent of students leaving the country at least once in their college career. But Mark Dalhouse, Elon’s new director of domestic programs for Study USA, said with the United States becoming more and more diverse, it has become its own global community.
“One can have a global experience without ever leaving the country,” Dalhouse said. “It’s a mistake to think of the United States as homogenous.”
Dalhouse joined Elon in June to become the new director of Study USA, which organizes programs like Elon in New York, Elon in LA and recent additions in Washington D.C. and Alaska. Prior to coming to Elon, Dalhouse was president of the Washington Internship Institute in D.C., and before that, he was dean of active citizenship and service at Vanderbilt University, where he also taught American history.
“Study USA seemed like exactly the type of hybrid position I had experience in,” he said. “I’ve had a foot in the classroom and in student affairs administration over the course of my 23 years in higher education.”
Dalhouse is replacing Study USA’s first director, Phil Smith, who Dalhouse said left a lot of the infrastructure for the program behind. And it’s the newness of the program that Dalhouse said attracted him to the director position.
“Study USA is a relatively new program, so it’s got a lot of room to grow,” he said.
Among the changes Dalhouse has planned is an expansion of both Winter Term Study USA programs and a new fall semester for Elon in New York.
There are also a number of new courses planned across the United States. They include a course where students visit the various sights affected by 9/11, a course exploring the First Amendment and its meaning in the modern world, a course in New Orleans to see how the city is doing 10 years after Hurricane Katrina and a course in Iowa during the presidential caucus.
“I’d like to see students go to Iowa, work with whatever organization they want and see history be made ahead of the 2016 elections,” Dalhouse said.
Part of Dalhouse’s hopes with Study USA is to not only expand the program into cities other than New York City, L.A.and D.C., but also to show students that internship opportunities exist there beyond the typical communications and political science positions.
For example, Dalhouse talked about the possibilities for international studies majors to intern at the United Nations in New York City, education majors in Los Angeles and students interested in non-profits and strategic communications in D.C.
“Not a lot of students know this, but D.C. has some of the best internships as far as experience, and they are very eager for Elon students in the spring and fall semesters,” he said.
Going further, Dalhouse talked about the possibilities for using the Study USA office to strengthen the intellectual climate of Elon with annual or biannual trips, like one Dalhouse is working on in Selma, Alabama to look at the Voting Rights Act after 50 years.
What Dalhouse stressed overall with Elon’s study programs is that, both abroad and domestically, Elon is trying to provide students with opportunities to get as much out of a globalized world as possible.
“The world current students are growing up in is very different from the one we knew before,” he said.