Study Abroad With D-Lab

Rebecca Smith, D-Lab Instructor

[Originally published in November 2011 D-Lab Digest]

D-Lab Student at Avani Solar Workshop

D-Lab is piloting MIT’s newest study abroad program this spring! D-Lab Study Abroad is a unique collaboration between D-Lab and the Global Education and Career Development Center that gives MIT undergraduates the opportunity to live, work, and learn in a developing country for a semester while earning MIT credit. We are very excited to expand student experiences in the field, to deepen our community partnerships, and to increase the impact of the D-Lab program through D-Lab Study Abroad.

The Study Abroad program was inspired by conversations with D-Lab partners in the summer of 2010 who wished for longer collaborations with students. In the fall of 2010, nearly 100 D-Lab alumni and current students responded enthusiastically to a survey, with great suggestions for improvements and additions to the proposed program. Discussions within the Institute progressed as a result, and we officially launched D-Lab Study Abroad in September 2011. Our program is unique at the Institute, as students will earn MIT credit, including engineering credit in the 2A (flexible Mechanical Engineering) program, in a non-tradional academic environment.

Interested undergraduate students have submitted their applications to be part of the D-Lab Study Abroad pilot this upcoming spring semester, when we will be working with long-standing partners in India, Nicaragua, or Zambia. We will send teams of several students to spend their semester with a partner, where they will take classes remotely, complete independent study projects supervised by an MIT professor, and take local language lessons. We are especially excited about students being remote members of D-Lab: Design next spring; they will participate in the class and be a member of a project team, linking the MIT-based design team to the community partner, potential users, and a wealth of local knowledge.

We believe that the semester-long collaboration between students and partners through D-Lab Study Abroad will lead to stronger connections in the community, significant progress on research and community development projects, and increased cultural immersion. We can’t wait to see what happens this spring!