The Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) in Moscow has been indefinitely suspended pending a review of the program’s practices and objectives.
According to BOSP Director Ramon Saldivar, the suspension will last through at least the 2014-15 academic year. He framed the planned faculty review as a continuation of the decision to reschedule next year’s Moscow program from fall quarter to spring in order to better serve student interests.
“Given all of [the proposed changes] and the fact that we were already deferring the program those two quarters, I decided that it would be better to reconceive the program and not just reschedule it — to wipe the slate clean and say if we were to start over, what kind of program would we like to have in Russia?” Saldivar said.
“It’s conceivable that we’ll have something in place for 2015-16,” he added. “That’s the earliest we would have a really finalized plan.”
Saldivar identified a more diverse and extensive set of course offerings, greater integration of student internships into the program and the incorporation of more than one geographic site as potential areas for discussion. He emphasized, however, that the historically limited interest in the Moscow program hadn’t played a major role in the decision.
“I’d rather have a small, really high quality program than a large program that [offers] less quality,” he said. “The numbers always fluctuate within a totally acceptable range — 10-15, 15-20…Those numbers are totally acceptable as long as the program is producing the kind of outcomes that we want it to.”
Miguel Boluda ’14, a peer advisor for the Moscow program, noted that a meeting last week between Saldivar and students who took part in the Moscow program last quarter struck a largely positive tone.
“The general consensus was that everyone had really terrific times,” Boluda said. “Some of the homestays didn’t match up, which is something that could happen with any BOSP program.”
Saldivar framed last week’s meeting as another component of ongoing efforts to solicit student input with regards to how BOSP programs meet student needs.
“Some of the issues that led to the changing of the program from fall quarter to spring quarter were a direct result of that input,” he noted.
While Saldivar and Boluda both expressed their expectation that the Moscow program would return eventually, Saldivar acknowledged that the form that it could take remains somewhat uncertain.
“The faculty community are the ones who have to weigh in on that,” he said. “My guess is that people are going to say yes [to the program’s continuation], but maybe they’ll want something more dynamic, more flexible…Historically, BOSP has been a dynamic institution. It’s not set in stone that just because we have been somewhere, we’ll always be there.”
In the interim, according to Saldivar, BOSP will attempt to maintain the opportunity for exposure to Russia by developing other study-abroad initiatives — like Overseas Seminars or the recently announced partnership program in Istanbul — with a view towards implementing a long-term solution.
“We certainly have student interest, and we certainly have faculty…who are willing to put in their work to make it happen,” Saldivar said. “The issue is how best to do it.”
Contact Marshall Watkins at mtwatkins ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.