Changing Higher Ed Podcast 142 with Host Dr. Drumm McNaughton and Guest Robyn Symon: Study Abroad Programs and Their Implications for Higher Ed Institutions
In today’s multi-generational and borderless world, study abroad programs are critical for introducing students to the world outside their university and even their country. They make up an integral part of the curriculum and the student undergraduate experience, and generally, students look back with very fond memories of their time abroad on their colleagues with whom they experienced these trips.
Unfortunately, despite all the “glamour shots” and publicity surrounding these trips, there is a dark side. You typically don’t hear about the deaths that occur because universities have not properly vented the vendors for these programs. Or the risks that students can be exposed to because a low-cost vendor or the tour guide takes students on a dangerous mountain road because their previously scheduled train didn’t run on time. But these happen, and when they do, they expose both the students and the University to unnecessary risk.
To learn more about study abroad programs, Dr. Drumm McNaughton spoke with Robyn Symon, producer of Emmy Award-winning documentaries and biopics on such notable celebrities as Robin Williams and Michael Jackson, Robyn has spent over 20 years documenting events in the lives of people, and her latest project, Trip of a Lifetime, focuses on the study abroad industry and how we can keep our students safe during these important programs.
- Inquire as to how your programs have been vetted for safety. Risk management is important, even with the study abroad programs.
- Do not assume that other countries have the same safety regulations that we do in the US. Don’t shortchange culture because there will always be resistance that could jeopardize it.
- Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. These programs are very important for students’ education, growth, and maturity, but they need to be vetted properly from A-Z to ensure the safety of all participants and the liability to the University.
About Our Guest
Robyn Symon is a two-time Emmy award-winning Writer/Producer/Director/Editor.
Robyn joined PBS in 1991 after four years as a TV News Reporter in Texas. At PBS, Robyn produced documentaries, public affairs programs, and TV series, including “Florida!” which also ran for six seasons on The Travel Channel, the PBS Pledge Special, “Boleros: Unforgettable Love Song” featuring top Latin musical stars, and the series “Voices of Vision,” hosted by NPR’s Scott Simon focusing on the work of non-profit organizations throughout the world. She has produced national TV specials on Robin Williams and Michael Jackson and an investigative program on the opioid epidemic.
Robyn debuted in the indie film arena in 2007, producing, directing, and editing the feature documentary “Transformation: The Life & Legacy of Werner Erhard,” about the controversial pioneer of the self-help industry streaming on Netflix. Since then, Robyn has written, produced, and directed documentaries, including “Hedy & Yumi: Crossing the Bridge,” about a holocaust couple turned relationship experts, “Behind the Blue Veil,” a documentary film about the nomadic Tuaregs caught in the middle of the War on Terror and “Do No Harm” about the silent epidemic of suicide and burnout among medical students and physicians.
In addition to two Emmys, Robyn has been honored with numerous national awards for writing and producing, including 3 Telly awards, 2 NABJ awards, and honors by both the Associated Press and United Press International.