The influence of study and travel abroad on the personal and professional development of students in architecture design programs

Lyle D Culver, Florida International University


International travel has significant implications on the study of architecture. This study analyzed ways in which undergraduate and graduate students benefited from the experience of international travel and study abroad. Taken from the perspective of 15 individuals who were currently or had been architecture students at the University of Miami and Florida International University or who were alumni of the University of Florida and Syracuse University, the research explored how international travel and study abroad enhanced their awareness and understanding of architecture, and how it complemented their architecture curricula. This study also addressed a more personal aspect of international travel in order to learn how the experience and exposure to foreign cultures had positively influenced the personal and professional development of the participants. Participants’ individual and two-person semi-structured interviews about study abroad experiences were electronically recorded and transcribed for analysis. A second interview was conducted with five of the participants to obtain feedback concerning the accuracy of the transcripts and the interpretation of the data. Sketch journals and design projects were also analyzed from five participants and used as data for the purposes of better understanding what these individuals learned and experienced as part of their study abroad. Findings indicated that study abroad experiences helped to broaden student understanding about architecture and urban development. These experiences also opened the possibilities of creative and professional expression. For many, this was the most important aspect of their education as architects because it heightened their interest in architecture. These individuals talked about how they had the opportunity to experience contemporary and ancient buildings that they had learned about in their history and design classes on their home campuses. In terms of personal and professional development, many of the participants remarked that they became more independent and self-reliant because of their study abroad experiences. They also displayed a sense of global awareness and were interested in the cultures of their host nations. The study abroad experiences also had a lasting influence on their professional development.

Subject Area

Art education|Architecture|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Culver, Lyle D, "The influence of study and travel abroad on the personal and professional development of students in architecture design programs" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3472026.