Winter Term at Elon: Global experiences and engaging classes get underway

Elon's three-week Winter Term kicked off on Thursday, Jan. 4, as hundreds of students, faculty and staff headed out on study abroad programs and intensive coursework get underway on campus.

Winter Term 2024 is officially underway at Elon University as hundreds of students, faculty and staff participating in study abroad and Study USA programs embarked and students on campus began intensive coursework in the session that runs throughout January.

Most students on campus for the three-week Winter Term will be taking a single course, meeting daily with faculty and their classmates until classes conclude on Jan. 24. Winter Term typically includes both core courses as well as those with more creative or unique topics.

Elon student Hadley Gilfillan, center, with classmates during the Winter Term 2023 program Barbados: Culture, Politics & Society. The group visited Walker’s Reserve, a conservation project, and planted trees on the property in an effort to promote sustainable practices.

Elon is nationally recognized for the emphasis it places on providing its students with access to global experiences, and Winter Term is the busiest time of year for this element that’s critical to an Elon education. The duration of the term provides students, faculty and staff the chance to immerse themselves in short-term study abroad experiences. Elon’s Winter Term and the global experiences it offers are part of the reason that close to 90 percent of Elon students participate in study abroad during their time at Elon, according to the most recent Open Doors Report from the Institute of International Education that ranked Elon No. 1 nationally for study abroad participation.

With the start of the new year, scores of Elon students, faculty and staff prepare for their Winter Term study abroad and Study USA programs. This January, 947 students and 95 faculty and staff will be participating in these programs in 27 countries.

“We’re thrilled to offer such a robust array of programs on five continents, including both abroad and in the United States through Study USA,” said Dean of Global Education Nick Gozik. “This year, the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center (GEC) will be sending 120 more students on winter term programs compared to last year, signaling a continued uptick in participation, and with the largest number of students in the past six years.”

Elon student Jakob Reuter, pictured here with a friend during his Winter Term program in Japan in 2023, said, “I’m extremely grateful for the friends I made, the customs I learned, the advisors that led, and the unbeatable cuisine I tried.”

The level of participation continues to increase following the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which forced the cancellation of study abroad programs at Elon and elsewhere amid travel restrictions. The continued easing of COVID restrictions globally has allowed programs in places such as mainland China to restart, and the Global Education Center has also added Winter Term programs, with an increase this year from 36 to 39, Gozik said. The GEC has also expanded its efforts to ensure that students understand the breadth of experiences available to them, with a new study abroad fair on Medallion Plaza during the spring semester.

Unique to Elon is the preparation students receive for their Winter Term programs. Most study abroad and Study USA courses require a one-credit course in the preceding fall semester, where students meet with their faculty members and classmates as they learn in advance about the locations and cultures they plan to visit. The classes allow professors to forge strong relationships with their students and give students an avenue to learn about each other prior to their immersion in new and dynamic places.

“Students tell us repeatedly that they choose Elon for global opportunities, including study abroad and Study USA,” Gozik said. “When integrated with their majors and minors, these experiences provide students with valuable skills that employers and graduate schools are looking for, including adaptability, global perspectives, and cross-cultural awareness.”

Study abroad and Study USA programs for Winter Term 2024 include:

In addition to these 39 Winter Term programs, a number of academic cohorts will be participating in study away programs both domestically and abroad:

  • Business Fellows
  • Communications Fellows
  • Elon College Fellows
  • Honors Fellows
  • Interactive Media graduate program
  • Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows
  • Master of Arts in Higher Education graduate program
  • Teaching Fellows

During Winter Term, students on campus can also participate in Burst the Bubble programs throughout the month. These free, noncredit sessions are created and led by students who have a talent, interest or skill they wish to share with their peers. Typically, a Burst the Bubble program meets three times – once a week – for an hour each time. Burst the Bubble programs are open to all students at Elon University.