African Americans are about 13 percent of all undergraduate students at U.S. colleges and universities but according to the Institute of International Education, African Americans are only 5.6 percent of the students who study abroad. The good news is that trendline is up. A decade ago, African Americans were just 3.5 percnt of the students who studied abroad.
At Spelman College in Atlanta, study abroad programs are far more popular than for African American college students generally. Spelman reports that during the 2015-16 academic year, 400 Spelman students studied abroad in 35 countries around the world. This is about one fifth of all Spelman students. For Spelman students who graduated in 2015, 71 percent had at least one foreign educational experience. Some 277 Spelman students studied abroad this past summer, a record number.
Dimeji Togunde, associate provost for global education states that “the phenomenal increase in the number of Spelman students participating in global travel experience reaffirms the College’s mission statement that aims at engaging students with the ‘many cultures of the world.’”
Dr. Togunde points out that Spelman has “very strong safety protocols in place for international travel. To ensure maximum safety, students are required to take a seminar that prepares them for general safety precautions for their country of destination, provides country-specific information, and offers guidance about the cultural aspects of the country they will visit.”
Dr. Togunde earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in demography and social statistics from the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. He holds a Ph.D. in development sociology from Cornell University.