Cathy Swick

University of Strasborg
Strasborg, France
Cathy Swick 

In order to fulfill my global understanding requirement, I completed an independent study at the University of Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France during March 2005. To develop a holistic perspective of higher education in France, I spent January and February researching French postsecondary education to foster a deeper reflection on comparative issues in higher education. In addition, my campus visit included three weeks at the University of Strasbourg during March to meet with administrators in the Office of Student Life and experience the cultural effects of postsecondary education in France.

By studying at the University of Strasbourg, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the French culture and explore postsecondary issues from an international context. I was able to observe, interact, and reflect on the student’s experiences. My intent was to apply critical reflection to the examination of policies and practices in higher education at the University of Strasbourg.

Overview of the University
The Office of Student Life at Strasbourg has four distinct areas including Orientation/Communication, Citizenship, Social Help/Health, and Culture and Sport. With my cognate is in recreation administration, I was interested in applying a critical lens to the office of Culture and Sport. I was able to study the cultural differences in practice and policy of culture and sport.  Specifically, I gained an understanding of the cultural influences on sport and leisure patterns between the United States and France.

Strasbourg has approximately 48,000 students divided between three universities. Louis Pasteur University covers disciplines such as chemistry, computer sciences, economics, business studies, geography, mathematics, medicine, pharmacy, physics, psychology, education, and life sciences. Marc Bloch University covers arts, French for foreign students, history, languages, literature, philosophy, physical education, sociology, and theology. Robert Schuman has programs in communication, journalism, law, business studies, political science, technological sciences, civil engineering, and information technology. Strasbourg’s three universities have nearly 19% of the total number of students from more than a hundred different countries. Strasbourg is the most international university city after Paris.

Learning Outcomes

  • Exposed me to a student affairs division that reflects the European perspective of how students learn, develop and grow;
  • Helped to define leadership strategies from various functional areas within a French university
  • Allowed me to compare cultural influences on recreation and leisure patterns between the United States and France
  • Provided preparatory information before I do the actual travel to help me appreciate the history and culture of the University of Strasbourg.
Written Comparative Higher Education Final Paper
The independent study at the University of Strasbourg provided me with the opportunity to explore postsecondary education in France and to compare and contrast educational differences. I completed a major paper on the cultural influences of sport and leisure patterns between the United States and France and provided a global perspective unique to France. I identified key theories and assumptions in French postsecondary education and examined policies and practices within higher education. The final paper provided a thoughtful reflection on comparative issues at the University of Strasbourg.