Written by Hannah Seibert and Gabriel Huff.
Executive Director of International Programs Audra Pleasant confirmed March 15 that Harding’s International Programs (IP) will resume this summer.
Pleasant sent the announcement to summer abroad programs, giving each group about a week to confirm whether they planned to participate. When students study abroad this summer, it will have been over a year since IP groups were sent home in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The Harding University in England (HUE), Harding University in Florence (HUF), Harding University in Greece (HUG), Art and Design International (ADI), Summer Undergraduate Research in Florence (SURF) and Scholars Abroad programs are scheduled to take place with modified formats. The IP office began tracking COVID-19 case numbers on Feb. 15, 2020, and has continued to follow the trajectory of the pandemic in each program’s location daily for the past 13 months.
Pleasant said the programs will be limited to places they can visit and always defer to the strictest health regulations.
“Each program has been reconstructed to take place in locations that permit educational student travel,” Pleasant said. “Other modifications have been made to minimize time spent in quarantine and comply with health and safety protocols in each planned program location. Case numbers, vaccination rates and local regulations continue to shift daily, and program guidelines will continue to adapt to comply with Harding’s policies, as well as local law.”
Pleasant said students are not required to get vaccinated. However, IP is encouraging vaccinations, and the vaccines will become mandatory if visited countries mandate vaccinations, she said.
Pleasant also said three summer programs — the college of business, the college of education and Bison Athletes in Training — were rescheduled for summer 2022 due to lack of enrollment or deferral by the program. HUE, usually scheduled every fall, will occur this summer because students were interested in going before next fall.
“While the summer study abroad programs have been adapted to meet COVID-19 requirements in each of their locations, this has created some unique opportunities,” IP communications and recruiting coordinator Stephen Chandler said.
“For instance, because HUF has been short[en]ed into two, one-month sessions, this has allowed students who might not be able to go abroad for a full semester the chance to have a study abroad experience.”
Sophomore Emily Ericson, who is attending the ADI program, said she was excited to hear the news of going abroad despite the placed restrictions.
“I just knew that there was a possibility that the trip would be canceled, and I’d have to be OK with that,” Ericson said. “I was just happy to find out two countries [were] going to be good for us to go to.”
Travel restrictions between the United States and Europe and within Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom remain in place. Educational travel is permitted, but independent travel away from the program will not be offered to students for the summer 2021 semester. HUG and Scholars Abroad will remain in Greece for the duration of their program, while HUF and SURF will remain in Italy for the duration of their program, and HUE and ADI will remain in the United Kingdom and Italy, respectively. Pleasant also said students must test negative for COVID-19 72 hours before returning to the U.S. at the end of the program.
“Due to the strict, on-going regional travel restrictions that will likely limit any travel outside of Florence, two four-week sessions of HUF are being offered in place of a full summer program,” Pleasant said. “The cost of the program has been substantially reduced to reflect the modified itinerary. Each session of HUF is being limited to 20 students in order to have the flexibility to implement quarantine procedures within the villa, if necessary.”
Pleasant said some abroad programs have seen an increase in enrollment, specifically HUE and HUG.
“For any students curious about studying abroad this summer, or any time of the year, we would love to meet with them,” Chandler said.
Students can visit the IP office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email IP at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow them on Instagram @HUintl for updates.