Website Facilitates Activities Abroad

Harvard’s Office of International Programs (OIP) launched a Web database last month that will help undergraduates find grants to study abroad.

The database, which is online at funding.fas.harvard.edu, could help Harvard move closer to achieving one of the goals set forth by the College’s Curricular Review last April.

“Every Harvard College student should be expected to complete an international experience, defined as study, research, or work abroad” according to the summary of the Curricular Review’s principal recommendations that was released at the time.

In the first 10 days after the database’s release, 360 students used the site to search for grants, according to OIP Director Jane Edwards.

The site contains 124 available funding sources, but that number is constantly increasing, according to the database’s project manager, Daphne Maramaldi.

Officials from programs across the University can log onto the site and update funding information quickly. “Uploading is easy—it takes about 10 minutes,” Maramaldi said.

Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 approved the database initiative this past spring, and Edwards hired Maramaldi to coordinate the effort with a team from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Computer Services.

The final product was unveiled at the Study Abroad Fair outside the Science Center on Oct. 6, which drew a crowd of 1,500, according to Edwards.

The site is the first step in a larger project, known as the “Mapping the International Landscape Initiative,” which aims to centralize information about international opportunities for Harvard students.

Available information will range from courses on campus that focus on foreign themes to internships abroad, according to Maramaldi.

“When I took [the database idea] to Dean Gross and Deputy Dean Patricia O’Brien, they were already determined to create a database for all kinds of initiatives,” Edwards said. “For them, this was a way of creating a prototype.”

Maramaldi said “the database was created so that it could be adapted,” adding that Harvard’s ultimate goal is to make an even wider range of funding opportunities available on the site.

She added that the website’s search function is similar to that of online vendor Amazon.com. When users perform a search, Amazon not only spits out a list of results but offers suggestions based on previous buyers’ preferences.

Maramaldi said the new site is “user-friendly and straightforward,” and that it aims to provide a broad range of results for each search.

Some of the first students to use the database gave positive reviews to the OIP site.

A joint anthropology and Slavic languages and literature concentrator in Winthrop House, Alexandra M. Fallows ‘08, said she “was surprised to find out how many opportunities there were, especially since [she] was searching Russia.”

Last academic year, 451 Harvard College students studied abroad—a 28-percent increase from the previous year. The number of students who studied abroad over the summer reached an all-time high of 238—a 76-percent increase from the previous year.