UMD: A Globally Connected University

Civic Engagement Abroad

UMD students travel to Ethiopia to build bridges with Engineers Without Borders.

“When young people understand the problems and challenges with which our planet is faced and are empowered to take action, they will follow their passions to make the world a better place.”  - Social Entrepreneur Greg Van Kirk

Civic Engagement Abroad…is it for me?

Are you passionate about making the world a better place but don’t know where to begin? Do you have the desire to make a positive impact and improve the welfare of our global community? Can you imagine yourself being a “change-maker” who creates practical solutions to real-world problems…but have difficulty connecting this vision to your current learning? Perhaps it is time to venture outside of your classroom and consider internationalizing your academic experience through one of UMD’s many civic engagement opportunities abroad. 

What does it mean to be a “global citizen?”

The realities of living in an increasingly interconnected world require higher education institutions to prepare students with a unique set of knowledge, skills, tools, and values that will enable them to become actively engaged and responsible citizens and leaders in a complex global society. Civic engagement programs provide you with meaningful opportunities to connect with the community in which you are living, serving, and working while contributing to the greater good of that community. 

Things to consider….

There are many different forms of experiential learning and ways to engage: service-learning, community-based partnerships, volunteering, community education programs, and community-based research are just a few. Opportunities through the University of Maryland can range in duration from one week to an entire semester. Some UMD study abroad programs may include a civic engagement component while others may operate as stand-alone programs. Offerings also vary in terms of the number of academic credits you can earn and the types of pre-requisites required. 

Why should I do it?

  • Enhance your academic experience through applied, project-based, and active learning.
  • Deepen your understanding and awareness of challenges that impact the global community through first-hand exposure to the issues and the people directly affected by them.
  • Acquire the knowledge, tools, skills, and cultural sensitivities needed to tackle the complex and difficult challenges we face living in a globalized society.
  • Gain confidence in your ability to create solutions to real-world problems and to make a positive social impact.
  • Develop your sense of social responsibility.
  • Students who engage in experiential learning, “learning by doing,” often describe it as being the most defining part of their undergraduate educational experience.
  • Contribute to creating a culture of innovation and impact at UMD.

How can I globalize my UMD experience through existing Civic Engagement Opportunities Abroad?

  • Maryland Social Entrepreneurs Corps (MSEC) is an eight-week social impact immersion program where UMD students work directly with impoverished communities in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic promoting sustainable entrepreneurial solutions to development challenges and create first-time access to affordable life-changing technologies, products, and services for isolated rural villagers.
  • Beyond the Classroom (BTC) is a three-semester, multidisciplinary, living-learning program at UMD that helps prepare students professionally for a life beyond college through global civic engagement and social change.
  • Engineers Without Borders (University of Maryland Chapter) is a non-profit organization that partners with disadvantaged communities to improve their quality of life through implementation of environmentally and economically sustainable engineering projects, while developing internationally responsible engineering students.
  • Students Helping Honduras (University of Maryland Chapter) is a non-profit organization that sends student volunteers from nearly 100 universities and high schools to developing communities in Honduras to build schools and raise money for children in the community. Last year, 23 Terps travelled to a rural village called Pimientera to begin the construction of a 3-room elementary school.
  • UMD Alternative Breaks are substance-free, community service-learning trips during winter, spring, and summer breaks. Participants travel both locally and internationally to engage in active service, learn about social issues, and build upon community assets. 
  • UMD Study Abroad Programs with Volunteer Opportunities
  • UMD Study Abroad Programs with Service-Learning Opportunities

Additional Resources at UMD


Other ways to globalize your experience abroad: