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US colleges cancel study abroad programs as coronavirus fears spread

Some schools including Stanford University, Syracuse University, and New York University said they were closing their campuses in Florence.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   02-03-2020

Stanfords Breyer Center for Overseas Studies in Florence
Stanford's Breyer Center for Overseas Studies in Florence is housed in the historic, palace-like Palazzo Capponi alle Rovinate which overlooks the Arno River.

US colleges are not leaving anything to chance as the coronavirus races from China to a growing number of countries, including Italy, Greece, Iran and South Korea. Seton Hall University, in South Orange, New Jersey is the latest US university this week to scupper all spring study abroad trips due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As the coronavirus gains steam in northern Italy, some US schools there, including Stanford University, Syracuse University, New York University and Elon University, have already announced they are closing their campuses in Florence.

Stanford’s Florence program

Stanford University has suspended its Italy program for the winter term, and a spring suspension also is a possibility. The Stanford program in Florence is run through the Breyer Center for Overseas Studies, located in the historic Palazzo Capponi alle Rovinate, in Florence.

“I am deeply disappointed,” Minaya Ghosh, an undergrad at Stanford University, who has an interdisciplinary interest in the history, culture, politics, and institutions of Europe, told Braingain Magazine.

“Being in Florence would probably have been the best academic decision I could’ve made for my language skills,” she added. “The Breyer Center occupies one floor of the Palazzo and it is almost like an Italian palace. I was looking forward to seeing it.”

Ghosh said the minor in Global Studies, with a concentration in European Studies, is very popular with undergraduates who plan to make Europe-based overseas studies a part of their Stanford experience.

Stanford’s Florence Program strives to turn students into academic travelers (not passing tourists), who ultimately leave Florence having mastered first-hand a culture —the Renaissance —which is at the core of the historical and artistic development of the Western world. The program allows students to develop a deep fluency on Italy, the European Union and the Mediterranean.

NYU urges students to leave Florence

New York University followed close on the heels of Stanford in shuttering its Florence campus.

“We have urged students to leave Florence for this period,” said NYU spokesman John Beckman.

Classes will continue remotely, as they are at NYU Shanghai in China, and students are strongly encouraged to return home, the university said.

Columbia University MBA program

The risk aversion is extremely high at US universities.

“All the Chinese students in my class who travel back-and-forth from China to attend classes once a month have been asked to stay at home and not come up to New York,” said Alice Hudson, an executive MBA student at Columbia University, in New York.

Watch-and-wait approach

Other US schools, such as Marist College, are keeping their overseas campuses open — for now — but offering students the option of leaving, reported CNBC.

As of today, our assessment is that we are comfortable staying open,″ John Peters, dean of international programs at Marist’s Florence campus, told the television network

For students who choose to remain in Italy, Marist has banned travel to northern parts of the country, including the Lombardy and Veneto regions, where the country’s outbreaks are most severe.

″This is a signature Marist experience,” he said. “Just about half of students study abroad during their undergraduate years and by far the Florence campus is the most popular destination.”

Student travel to China suspended

Many schools, including Cornell University, have already suspended travel to China because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The university will not permit Cornell-related undergraduate, graduate or professional student travel to mainland China until such time as Cornell’s International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) removes China from the elevated-risk destinations list,” Cornell Provost Michael Kotlikoff said in a statement.



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