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The Global Independent Study Initiative, which debuted this semester, drew 14 participants in its inaugural run and is looking forward to receiving a second crop of proposals for the spring, said Kendall Brostuen, director of international programs. 

To create a project under the Initiative — known as a GLISP and similar to an Independent Study Project or a Group Independent Study Project — students must design a research project that they then carry out during a semester abroad under the guidance of a Brown professor. It aims to give students a chance to remain involved with Brown's faculty and curriculum while abroad, Brostuen said. Students also receive a Brown course credit upon completion of the program.

The program "really sets Brown apart from other institutions," Brostuen said, adding that Brown is the first U.S. school that he knows of to implement such a program.
GLISP applications for the spring semester were due last week, but the Office of International Programs "is going to try to be very flexible with the deadline," Brousten said. He said he expects the program to receive fewer applications in the spring than it did this fall because students did not have a whole summer to prepare for it this time around. 

In addition to receiving course credit, GLISP research can also serve as a foundation for a senior thesis, Brostuen said, and it can deepen a student-faculty relationship that might otherwise be truncated by the semester abroad.

Students currently completing GLISPs said they found the program valuable. 

"I thought that conducting a GLISP might also give me a better idea of what topic I'd like to pursue for my senior thesis," wrote Marina Irgon '11 in an e-mail to The Herald from the Czech Republic. Irgon's GLISP evaluates how the recent economic crisis has manifested itself in the Czech Republic. 

"One of the greatest downfalls of study abroad is the general lack of academic rigor," Irgon wrote. "Conducting a GLISP is a great way to be academically productive while abroad."

A GLISP allows students to "use primary resources or resources that can only be found in the study-abroad city or country," wrote Celina Pedrosa '11, who is studying in France this semester, in an e-mail to The Herald. Her project focuses on the cultural impact and social integration of Brazilian exiles in Paris who fled the Brazil's dictatorship in the 1970s. 

But for some students, the process of formulating a research topic proves challenging. 
"For me, the hardest part of the application process was designing my own topic," wrote Megan Lin '11 in an e-mail to The Herald. She is studying monetary economic policy in the United Kingdom at the London School of Economics. 

Professor of Hispanic Studies Julio Ortega, who is currently advising Michelle Levinson '11 on a GLISP she is doing in Cuba, said a rigorous process was important to making the projects valuable. "I hope it is difficult — that there are rigorous criteria  — because internationalization must be a serious undertaking for all concerned," he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. 

Though an ocean may divide them from their advisees, faculty advisers are expected to maintain close involvement with students who are doing GLISPs, and they ultimately grade the final research paper that emerges from the study.

Patricia Symonds, an adjunct associate professor of anthropology who is advising Eleanor Chute '11 during her stay in China, regularly e-mails and chats with Chute via Skype and also responds to specific questions, Symonds wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. She also said she is a resource if Chute is simply "feeling the need to talk to someone at ‘home.'"

The research proposals are reviewed by a committee composed of members from the OIP, the College Curriculum Council — which also reviews ISPs and GISPs — and the Office of the Dean of the College.

The committee did not reject any GLISP applications for this semester, Brostuen said, but it did ask some students to clarify specifics of their projects. 

"We were amazed at the kind of proposals we were getting," Brostuen said.


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