Written by: Kaleb Turner
For the first time in the history of Harding’s International Programs, students now have the opportunity to experience both the Harding University in Florence (HUF) and Harding University in Greece (HUG) programs in the fall of 2017. Students will begin at HUG in mid-September and end the program before Christmas break at HUF.
According to Jeff Hopper, dean of International Programs, the total number of people signed up for HUF and HUG in the fall increased from 17 to the limit of 40 with a waiting list of 12 for the combined program within two days of the announcement.
Hopper said the motivation behind the combined program stemmed from low enrollment numbers for the individual HUF and HUG programs in the fall.
“We have seen long waiting lists for our spring programs and lower enrollment for the fall programs,” Hopper said. “We know that the programs have been the same in the fall and spring so we assume this imbalance is due to student preference.”
Freshman Grady Moore transferred to the HUF/HUG program from Harding University Latin America (HULA) after hearing about the opportunity to study in both Italy and Greece.
“I switched programs because of the fact that it is two different trips in one — how you get to see the highlights of the Greece trip and the Italy trip, and then you get to free travel,” Moore said. “It’s really about getting to experience as much as possible in one trip to Europe.”
For students going to the combined program like Moore, Hopper said the program will provide a much deeper knowledge and understanding of ancient history in the area.
“Doing the site visits at HUG then HUF will provide a hands-on, seamless, continuous flow from ancient history, starting with the Minoan and Sumerian civilizations, then on through Canaanite, Israelite, Greek, Roman, medieval and Renaissance features,” Hopper said.
According to Hopper, there will be no “HUF only” or “HUG only” program in the fall, but he believes the combined program will provide a greater benefit to the students participating in the combined program.
“(Executive vice president) David Collins suggested we try combining the two programs in the fall to see if a more attractive program could be created on a one-time, special occasion basis, and if the idea worked it would have the additional benefit of having a more solid social core with more students,” Hopper said.
Ashel Parsons, International Programs administrator, said the program will have a combined course schedule with combined faculty as well.
“Both HUG and HUF original faculty (Dr. Dennis Matlock and Dr. Cliff Ganus) will be with the group the whole semester,” Parsons said. “The HUG directors will only direct the HUG portion and the HUF directors will only direct the HUF portion.”
Parsons also said that the significant tours featured in each individual program will be included in the combined program. In addition, students will still be able to take advantage of independent travel at the conclusion of the semester.
The combined program will cost no more than a traditional semester abroad, and students who sign up for the program will receive a $1,000 discount on the cost of the program.