Asee peer logo

Authentic International Research Experience: Program Model in Cartagena, Colombia

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division


Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Julianne Vernon University of Michigan

visit author page

Julianne Vernon is a Research Program Officer at the University of Michigan, the College of Literature, Science, and Arts where she is coordinating the implementation of faculty led research projects into introductory chemistry and biology lab courses. She received her bachelors of engineering in chemical engineering from the City College of New York and her doctorate degree at University of Florida in Environmental Engineering. She has experience developing international and national research experience for STEM majors.

visit author page


Claude Brathwaite City College of New York, NYC Louis Stokes Alliance

visit author page

Dr. Claude Brathwaite is currently the Project Administrator for the New York City Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (LSAMP). Claude initially attended Hostos Community College and later received his BS in Chemistry from the City College of the City University of New York and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He was a Chancellor's Fellow (City University of New York) and a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow (Weill Cornell Medical College-Division of Molecular Medicine). As the Project Administrator of the LSAMP, he oversees the day-to-day operation of the NYC Louis Stokes Alliance program across the 18 member campuses of City University of New York. Claude also served as the Co-Director of the Black Studies Program at the City College and the Project Director of the City College Black Male Leadership and Mentoring Program. The Black Male Leadership and Mentoring Project (BMLMP) at the City College of New York, provides a support system during the critical stages of academic and career development.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Integrating an international experience in undergraduate education is increasingly seen as an important component of high impact undergraduate activities. These usually take the form of student exchanges, internships, service learning experiences and short-term faculty led study abroad programs. Students in these programs have a very wide range of international exposure and local interaction. Despite increases in the number of American students going abroad to study, the participation by underrepresented minorities and persons in the STEM disciplines is still relatively low.

"Our program" at our institution has, since its inception in November 1992, been at the forefront of a concentrated effort to substantially increase the number of underrepresented minority students who pursue and graduate with Baccalaureate Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In 2008 an approach was implemented to allow our Scholars to integrate an International Experience into their undergraduate studies. The multi-pronged approach consists of 1) collaborating with existing programs within the NSF and other federal agencies, 2) working collaboratively with a core of mentors/faculty who have international collaborations, 3) working closely with Departments, Institutes and Centers at our institution who have international agreements, significant international research focus, and 4) working collaboratively with other institutions, all of which have some developed program activities in international research.

In the summer of 2009, ten students participated in Cartagena, Colombia program. The model was designed to incorporate Spanish language, culture, research, and service learning in primarily Afro-Colombian communities. The students selected were from the science and engineering fields at the undergraduate and graduate level. Research focused on environmental monitoring using GIS/GPS tools in five communities that comprise La Boquilla. The students were taught basic research skills such as literature review, report writing, data analysis, poster presentation, field sampling, and time management. Four cohorts of students participated in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2015.

The original model (from Cartagena) was piloted for two years and then tested in two other locations in South America. In 2012 the model was then expanded to Cali, Colombia, Bahia, Brazil, and Quito, Ecuador. Assessment of the program was done to get student’s feedback on their weekly experience and structure of the program. The model can be customized and implemented in a wide variety of locations, institutional types, different levels of students and STEM disciplines.

Vernon, J., & Brathwaite, C. (2016, June), Authentic International Research Experience: Program Model in Cartagena, Colombia Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26350

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015