Central Michigan University will offer its first study abroad program focused on special education next summer.
The three-week program will feature three different classes during10 days in Denmark to give students a perspective of social services in other countries.
“I think the combination of the country we are going to and the student excitement is going to make it a really exciting program,” Counseling and Special Education Professor Jordan Shurr said. “It’s going to be a really rich experience with people from a lot of different venues who all have a similar focus.”
The program will offer special education core classes SPE 519 and SPE 521 with an option to take both classes. A third option, SPE 545, is open to anyone who has an interest in special education.
Half of SPE 519 and 521 will be taught in the United States beginning on May 19. Students will depart for Denmark on June 1 and will spend 11 days in Copenhagen, Denmark and Aaraus, Switzerland.
“I have had quite a few students who said they are in their last year and were hoping this would come before they graduated,” Shurr said. “Some of them have studied abroad with general education and they have had great experiences, but they wanted something specific to their passion in special education and disabilities.”
Shurr hopes the difference in culture and social services offered to those with special needs will give the students a good experience.
“Smaller countries than the United States have a unique sense of community where disabilities are welcomed quite well,” he said. “The culture allows for support systems for people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities. They just have a unique perspective that lends itself to accepting people in their various shapes, sizes, abilities and disabilities.”
Once in Denmark, students will have the opportunity to speak with members of the Danish Ministry of Education, have discussions with disability advocacy groups and even get the chance to interact with individuals with disabilities.
Shurr said students will have much to gain from these experiences.
“Having this more communal culture where everyone is different and they celebrate that just makes Denmark a really unique opportunity,” he said. “We will be able to compare and contrast how they do these things and how they perceive intellectual disability.”