Mississippi State is joining the Institute of International Education's Generation Study Abroad initiative that seeks to double the number of American students studying abroad by decade's end.
According to IIE officials, less than 1 percent of undergraduate university students currently are studying in other countries.
Long recognizing the importance of globalization as a part of the institution's strategic plan, MSU officials have committed to doubling the number of undergraduates studying abroad over the next five years.
Jon Rezek, interim associate vice president for international programs, said MSU remains committed to a tradition of instilling among students and alumni with the ideals of diversity, citizenship, leadership and service. He said around 200 MSU students study abroad each year, but the university wants to grow numbers to 400-450 per year by 2019.
"Studying abroad is a life-changing opportunity that we hope all MSU students will experience in the coming years," Rezek said.
"We hope that, through participation in the Generation Study Abroad commitment, we may encourage students to expand their involvement in the greater community by becoming active citizens of the world," he added.
Generation Study Abroad focuses both on academic studies and internships, service-learning and non-credit educational experiences.
Rezek said Mississippi State is among the lead partners who have committed to specific, measureable actions. The university is among more than 150 higher education institutions from 41 states that have signed the Generation Study Abroad commitment.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and several foreign governments, as well as key higher education associations and study abroad provider organizations, also have pledged to support goals of the initiative.
IIE also is actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community.
"Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise," said Allan Goodman, IIE president. "Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders."
Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million to the initiative over the next five years.
For more information on the Generation Study Abroad initiative and list of commitment partners, visit www.iie.org/generationstudyabroad.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.