Northeastern is a Global University: What Does that Mean?

Northeastern is a global school. “Global university” appears on brochures, magazines, websites, and out of the mouths of faculty. But what does that mean? What makes Northeastern’s global opportunities so amazing? Northeastern’s focus on experiential learning: co-op, study abroad, Dialogues, student research, and service-learning. However, my main focus for this post is one of those: the Dialogue of Civilizations program.

Every university, including Northeastern, has a study abroad program. I did a traditional study abroad in Greece. However, the Dialogue of Civilizations program at Northeastern is entirely different from any study abroad program I have heard of at other schools.

What is the Dialogue of Civilizations program? At its core, a Dialogue is a four to six week program where you take two courses and receive eight total credits. It is half of a semester worth of classes, but takes a quarter of the time. In addition, Northeastern University professors teach the courses. Yes, you read that correctly. How does that work? A professor and (usually) a teacher’s assistant travel with you for the entire trip. This changes the entire dynamic. Instead of studying everyday and staying in the same location, many dialogues will travel to multiple cities and sometimes multiple countries because there is that flexibility when your professors travel with you. Incredible, right?

From my perspective, Dialogues are the best of all possible worlds: course credit and exploring different parts of the world in half the time as a summer semester. I’ve been on two and I wish I’d had time for more.

My first Dialogue was to Israel and Palestine after my freshman year to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We started in Jerusalem (where we did almost daily trips into the West Bank), Tel Aviv, and the Golan Heights. While we were there, we took one international affairs class on the conflict and one literature course on the differing perspectives/narratives once or twice a week. The remaining days were spent meeting with NGOs, politicians, diplomats, and locals. Although mentally and physically draining, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The sheer amount that I learned throughout this experience changed my perspective on the world and helped me decide on my International Affairs major.

For my second Dialogue, I travelled all over India for my Global Social Entrepreneurship minor after my third year at Northeastern. Although our academic focuses were on entrepreneurship and gender studies, the core of our experience was spent absorbing the culture and learning through their lived experience. We met with NGOs and students across the country, stayed in rural villages and massive cities, and ate until our stomachs hurt. Something that will stay with me forever was the kindness we experienced and my desire to go back.

Besides Dialogues, how else is Northeastern a global university? All aspects about Northeastern lead back to experiential learning. What is the purpose of experiential learning? Getting practical knowledge in the real world. For more information on co-op, check out my post “What is Co-op?” In terms of student research, there are so many ways to get involved simply by reaching out to a professor. Service-Learning is essentially community service through various classes or clubs. Many study abroad programs assign a service-learning site to become more engaged in the local community. The best part? You are not limited to one! You can do all five if you like during your time at Northeastern. All of Northeastern’s experiential learning opportunities open so many doors to increasing understanding and awareness of other cultures. That is what makes Northeastern a global university: the opportunity to learn in the real world.



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