College in much of the West is the formal site of higher education but what is expected from college is education more broadly conceived. The university is a place where students come to learn but it also is a collection of spaces where informal learning builds their capacities to create and perform on a larger stage than family and neighborhood. The public sphere constituted by the university is sheltered, but students are still exposed to individuals from different backgrounds and encouraged to expand their horizons to embrace concerns that lie outside the interests and competence of their families and neighborhoods. The adults and peers who surround them make demands that each student must either accommodate or resist. How to make these choices is an important element of both “global education” and the transition to adulthood. Some of this informal learning is accomplished through leaving home to join a university community. Here I examine the structures and practices that influence informal student learning where the relative impact of the home and the university differ. I also look at three study-abroad programs, arguing that the spaces and places of education in a foreign country remain influenced by the cultural values of home and home institutions. My purpose is to evaluate the extent to which these universities and programs prepare graduates for life in a globalized world, and to determine some of the reasons lying behind the differences.
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