Picture this, you’re a Stanford student interested in gaining some international experience through a Stanford opportunity during spring or summer break. Where do you start your search?
Of course, you can go to one of the larger units on campus that offer such opportunities, such as, the Bing Overseas Studies Program (if you are an undergraduate), Stanford Global Studies or the Haas Center for Public Service, but is there more? The answer is, YES, there is much more, but how do you find these opportunities?
University data shows that more than 600 undergraduate students travel on extended Stanford academic international opportunities that are provided by academic units outside of the Bing Overseas Studies Program. Understanding the student challenge in finding these opportunities, the OIA convened a core group of initial stakeholders from diverse places on campus looking to alleviate this student burden. These included Stanford Global Studies, the Haas Center for Public Service, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Center for East Asian Studies and Global Engineering Programs.
Over the course of several months, OIA worked alongside stakeholders to define and prioritize, find commonalities and compromise the needs of program administrators managing student programs. The goal was to create a flexible platform that could meet the needs of multiple and varied program administrators. SOLO (Stanford-Off-campus Learning Opportunities), a platform that can be used by any academic unit at the university that wants to post Stanford academic opportunities, is the result of many hours of brainstorming sessions and development work.
SOLO launched during the Fall quarter 2016 and grew to include over 30+ departments, 300+ opportunities located in the U.S. and abroad for undergraduate and graduate students, and 2100+ submitted applications.
The new SOLO platform aggregates many different kinds of Stanford academic opportunities for students to go abroad and gain experiences through internships, research, public service, study tours, etc. Stanford academic units that manage those opportunities at the departmental/unit level program can post opportunities, collect applications, award and prepare students for travel, and collect data for reporting purposes, all in one place.
Over time, a community of practice organically grew from the original group of stakeholders. They shared the burdens of administering their programs and worked together to solve problems and establish best practices around student data, privacy, and security. The days of program administrators trying to figure out how to re-invent their own application and selection system every year are gone. Now, they have the opportunity to join SOLO and the community of program administrators that comes with it.
SOLO has capacity to grow to include more Stanford academic opportunities. If you would like to add your program and its opportunities to SOLO, contact Pauline Larmaraud, Associate Director, Office of International Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org .